Cruising is harmless if laws are enforced

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Tribune editorial staff

For the most part, cruising the downtown streets of Ironton is a harmless pastime for teens and young adults.

But, cruising isn't what causes problems - it's the other behavior associated with it.

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Like many people, we are not particularly fond of being stuck in the Third Street traffic on Friday and Saturday nights, but when we think about the alternative, we can deal with it. We would much rather see these young people driving around - at a slow speed - on well-lit streets with police officers on patrol than on a dark, country road with no law enforcement present. The latter provides young people more of a chance to drink and drive and, consequently, be involved in automobile accidents.

With that said, we applaud the city for stepping up its enforcement efforts in the downtown area on the weekends. It is not the cruising that is the problem - it is the various problems that come with it, such as littering, excessive noise, loitering and drinking. By enforcing laws that pertain to these items, police can help bridge the gap between the pro- and anti-cruising camps.

Would the downtown business people complain as much if they didn't have to pick up trash every Monday morning? Would the residents in the downtown area feel more at ease if they could get to sleep at night without having to hear radios blasting at 1 a.m. and beyond? Would motorists feel safer if they knew the drivers around them were sober?

We suspect the answer to these questions is "yes."

The fact is, the police department can help alleviate the real problems and make cruising less of an issue. As more and more citations are issued, one of two things will happen: one, "cruisers" will clean up their act and start obeying the laws; or, two, the bad apples will be purged from the bunch.

It is common knowledge that young people in this area do not have many options when it comes to weekend entertainment. Driving the streets in itself is not a public nuisance - as long as it is done with courtesy. It is when the non-cruisers' rights are neglected that it becomes a problem.

We support the police department's efforts in addressing this issue and hope everyone remains patient as it works to eliminate a few bumps in the road.