A recent special interest report on KTVU Fox Channel 2 focused on the supposed rise of illegal street racing in the Bay Area, specifically in Oakland, California near the 7th street Port of Oakland. In response to someone tipping off the local news station of a whole youtube channel devoted to these illegal street drags, the Oakland Police department has stepped up their surveillance and vigilance at that certain area as well as plans to install speed bumps and rumble strips to combat returners to the area who do plan to drag race.
Street racing on public roads is a problem that police and locals have fought against practically since cars have been on the road, and the plight of these local young street racers is no different then what local authorities have faced in the past. There are two sides to every story and the way that the City of Oakland and these racers deal with this problem that has risen to the public eye will be interesting to watch.
On one hand, we have the local authorities and the news. Police have a duty to “protect and serve” their constituents, even when those constituents put themselves voluntarily in harms way. Street racing by its very nature is dangerous and taking place on public roads makes it more so
Typical initial response would be to prevent street racers from returning, as the news story stated, but these immediate measures only last for so long. Like any person who can’t have fun at one spot, they will find another spot as soon as possible and a perpetual cat and mouse game between street racers and police will ensue.
On the other hand, we have a group of local street racers whose hobby and past time is to soup up there vehicles and race them against each other.Street racing is a source of camaraderie, skill building and overall a life rewarding experience for those that participate. The only time it does get out of hand is when risks are taken far beyond the normal drag race when gambling comes into play. To do so on local roads is against the law, yet personal reward outweighs the risk, despite reports of arrests, car impounds and jail time.
Although inherently dangerous, I do have to point out that these Oakland street racers chose a street far away from the public and in a well lighted area, away from locals. It was the perfect spot to drag race, but technically it was illegal.
Now it is up to both street racers and local authorities to sort things out in a civil manner. For one, the local steet racers need an official face and group to which to associate themselves with. In addition, then need to garner the support of the majority of local street racers in the community. Next they need to communicate and come up with some compromises with local authorities and community businesses to find a plausible solution, whether it be a long term commitment to build a drag strip, open up a public area for street racing every couple of nights a week with rules and regulations or come up with some other solution. Simply outlawing street racing will most likely not solve the problem. Although typical responses from police like task forces and speed bumps will slow the tide of street racing, it will just leave a bunch of frustrated youth with nowhere to practice there passion.
I will do my best to keep up with this story and provide the latest information as it comes through.