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EDITORIAL: Safety first when riding bikes

THE YORK DISPATCH

Boys on bikes.

Who realized something that simple could help solve some of the problems of York City.

A group of teenagers, mostly boys, have banded together to engage in that innocent activity of riding their bikes.

Some days there will be 50 kids or more, just riding their bikes on the streets of York City.

The group is deliberately geographically mixed, with kids from the south and west sides as well as the Parkway neighborhood breaking away from the loosely organized "crews" in their usual stomping grounds and having some summer fun together.

"We are not violent people," said Desmyn Braswell, 16. "We're doing this for a good cause. It doesn't matter who you are."

Desmyn didn't know he would create this group when he sent a Facebook message to some friends two years ago suggesting going for a bike ride.

The teens recently met up with reporter Erin James at Penn Park. She and photographer John Pavoncello had asked a few of them to meet and talk about how they all came to know each other.

They had expected three or four teens. More than 30 showed up to show off their wheelie skills and have their pictures taken. You can see a video of them at yorkdispatch.com.

They're getting good feedback from their parents and community members.

"They're all good kids, not selling drugs or shooting guns," said William Braswell, Desmyn's father. "They're out here being kids."

But they also need to be aware of the traffic on the city's streets and the other people in the area. Our video shows the group riding circles in the middle of the street, stopping cars.

The extended bike lane along King Street will help, and the rail trail is also a good place for a group of teens looking for a spot to get some exercise during the summer months.

But we know the group doesn't want to be limited to just those areas.

The city needs more bike lanes and wider, smoother roads, Desmyn said, and he's right.

But we're going to echo the words of his father: The bikers "need to follow the rules."

This is a great idea that has real potential to make a positive impact on the city. The last thing that needs to happen is for someone to get hurt.