Illegal street racing in Atlanta could soon be a little less… illegal.
Officials in The Big Peach know they’re fighting a losing battle when it comes to street racing, especially now that they streets are emptier than ever because of the coronavirus lockdowns. So, they’re considering a whole new approach to the problem: Rather than arresting people, the city intends to make the illegal activity safer.
Altanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Bloomberg Philanthropies hope that providing the city’s legion of car junkies with an official venue to race may make the popular late-night activity a little less dangerous, reports CBS 46 (via Jalopnik). The zone will be created by closing down certain streets for the express purpose of doing donuts, burnouts and racing.
The idea for the new street racing strategy comes from the mayor’s teenage son, she revealed in a call with City Council last week. The mayor then approached Bloomberg Philanthropies, which, along with the city, is now looking into the feasibility of the plan.
“Along with Bloomberg, who we’ve reached out to help us do some bench marking and assessment of what’s happening in other cities has been to consider a designated space for street racing,” Mayor Bottoms said on the call.
Unsurprisingly, the idea has already faced some pushback. Council members Dustin Hillis and Carla Smith, along with the Atlanta Police Department, hope to do more to dissuade the city’s wannabe racers. Some deterrence-based ideas that have been bandied about include drastically raising fines and introducing jail time for anyone caught at races, including spectators, according to Jalopnik.
As streets around the country have emptied out amid the pandemic, there has been an uptick in street racing, according to the website. This has been especially true in Atlanta, where racing is a huge part of the city’s car culture. Though it may seem safer to the drivers themselves, unsanctioned racing is always dangerous on public roads. Whether a dedicated, city-sanctioned “zone” will make street racing less dangerous remains an open question. While Mayor Bottoms did not make any promises, it does sound like the city is at least open to giving this plan some serious consideration.