|Photo | Jesse Delaney
|"Philadelphia should have these."
This morning, Councilmembers Jim Kenney and Frank DiCicco introduced legislation aimed at reining in bicyclists.
The particulars: Three bills were introduced today, two as an either-or pair.
Councilman Kenney introduced two bills (co-sponsored by Councilman DiCicco) that each seek to increase fines for riding on the sidewalk (from $10 to $300), wearing headphones (from $3 to $300), and riding without brakes (a $1,000 penalty in one bill; confiscation in the other).
Councilman DiCicco introduced one bill (co-sponsored by Councilman Kenney) that would require all riders to register their bikes with the city (at a fee of $20), and mount license plates on their bikes. The penalty for not doing so would be $100.
The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia â which has been a vocal advocate for bikers' following traffic laws â has voiced its opposition to these bills.
They make two points. The first is that raising penalties while enforcement is still so lax is counter-productive and unfair.
The first step toward safer streets is equitable and consistent enforcement of traffic laws as they apply to all road users. Up to now, traffic enforcement has not been a priority. The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia urges City Council and the Nutter Administration to implement immediately an equitable and consistent traffic education and enforcement program to enforce the laws that are currently on the books before City Council raises penalties, requires mandatory registration, and puts other restrictions in place.
The second, regarding bikes being required to have license plates, is that similar attempts have failed elsewhere and would simply discourage people from riding.
With regards to laws requiring registration and licensing of bicycles, the Bicycle Coalition does not support a mandatory program. Among other issues, we are concerned about the potential for a registration program to discourage riders, impose financial disincentives, and expose the City to numerous legal issues. Peer cities and states have passed and then repealed registration and licensing programs. We recommend a thorough investigation of registration and licensing programs in other cities to determine whether such programs would help or hinder efforts to achieve peace on Philadelphiaâs streets.
My own opinion is that these bills, while well-intentioned, are over-reactions to a problem that's consistently misunderstood and blown out of proportion.
There have been two deaths of pedestrians by bicyclists recently: that's tragic. But step back and look at the number of pedestrians or bicyclists killed by drivers in any given period, and you'll see that bicycles are the least of our safety woes.
These fines mostly apply to laws already in place. I think those laws are OK (although I propose you should be able to have headphones if you only use one ear bud!), but the high fines are seriously misguided.
If more Philadelphians tried riding through inner-city traffic themselves, they'd understand how scary it can be, even for the most experienced riders. Many of the people who ride on the sidewalk do so simply because they find it scary to ride with cars â and looking at the numbers of fatalities and accidents, it's a perfectly logical fear. These riders need a little help, not fines.
Regarding headphones, The Bicycle Coalition Advocacy Director John Boyle points out the Pennsylvania law contains no prohibition at all on headphone use. The proposed fine for headphones ($300) is almost three times the fine for running a red light which, it seems to me, is a much more dangerous offense.
To be fair to the Councilmembers, both spoke eloquently and sensibly about their bills today. Both insist they support and encourage biking in the city, and both have emphasized that these bills are open to discussion and amendments, and that they're willing to listen.
As if you didn't know: The Phillies won a tense game 5, forcing a game 6 tomorrow night in New York wherein Pedro Martinez will get a second chance to end the "who's your daddy?" chants once and for all.
Also, SEPTA called an audible, announcing a 3 a.m. strike shutting down all city subway, bus and trolley service, essentially holding true to the letter of their word to not striking during the World Series home games. Yes, yes, we support the union's right to strike, but tell it to the people waiting at bus stops at 5:30 this morning.
So we'll take this opportunity to share a word with the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia who suggest you "Bike the Strike":
PHILADELPHIA - November 3, 2009 - The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia urges SEPTA travelers to bike instead of driving. Commuters who bike will win out over those stuck in traffic jams of epic proportions."Avoid the crush and bike the strike," says Alex Doty, Executive Director of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia. "Bike the Strike to save time, money and help shrink your waistline. Plus, I guarantee you will have more fun than anyone trying to drive during the strike."
In cooperation with Philadelphia's Office of Transportation and Utilities, the Bicycle Coalition has established a Bike the Strike station at City Hall (Dillworth Plaza). The station has bike parking corrals, free coffee, bike maps and Bicycle Ambassadors on hand to give tips on bike commuting and personalized route planning.
Keeping safe while bicycling is critical. "Bicycles are considered vehicles, so we also urge all bicyclists to obey the rules of the road," said Education Director Breen Goodwin. "It's important for all bicyclists to be civil, courteous and comply with traffic laws, such as walking their bikes on sidewalks and stopping at all signals, to ensure the everyone's safety."
More biking tips after the jump:
BIKE THE STRIKE
For those who commute four miles or less, bicycling instead of driving will get you to your destination faster and will take no longer than using a bus or trolley.
A Center City District study found that bicycling by following the rules of the road is always faster than walking, driving or taking the bus across Center City during rush hour.
Commuting by bicycle for 15 minutes each way (about 2-3 miles) meets the Center for Disease Control's minimum recommendation of 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per day
Regular physical activity may help reduce your risk for many diseases including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, colon and breast cancers, and osteoporosis. It also helps to control weight; contributes to healthy bones, muscles, and joints; and reduces falls among older adults.
Bicyclists are not pedestrians with two wheels. Bikes are vehicles and must comply with traffic laws just as motor vehicles do.
Bicycles should stop at all red lights and walk their bikes on sidewalks.
Stop by your local bike shop during the strike for a free bicycle safety check
For more commuting tips, go to www.bicycleambassadors.org and click on Handouts and videos
55,000 commuters bike to work once a month.
On a typical day in Philadelphia, 11,000 bike-to-work trips are taken.
1.6 % of commuters ride their bike to work; Philadelphia has the highest percentage of bike-to-work commuters of the country's largest 10 cities
As the Philadelphia Parking Authority makes the transition from meters to kiosks, they're simply popping the meters off their poles.
This, of course, is bad news if you happen to have locked your bike to one of them, as parking meter poles, sans parking meters, are essentially useless, as a U-lock will just slide right off.
The meter/kiosk conversion happened on Second Street today, and on a now-meterless pole outside the Khyber, there's a taped-on sign that reads "Your bike is inside the Khyber."
According to Khyber tapminder/beer slector Jeremy Thomson, the bike, a purple and green Magna women's mountain bike remains unclained. There's a lock attached to it, so if you posess the key to that lock, you can head over to 56 S. Second St. and claim your bike.
Anyone out there lose their bike to the meter conversion?
|Full results at blog.bicyclecoalition.org|
The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia released its preliminary data on the controversial bike lane pilot program on Pine and Spruce, and early results indicate that the lanes are definitely increasing bike traffic on the streets (up about 90 percent overall) and, just as importantly, DECREASING the number of bikes on the sidewalk.
WHYY's Elizabeth Fiedler reported yesterday that the city has thusfar received slightly more positive feedback than negative. In her report, she quotes Andrew Stober, Director of Strategic Initiatives in the Mayorâs Office of Transportation and Utilities:
We're hearing from drivers and neighborhood residents who are pleased with the bike lanes and they find traffic moving in a more orderly fashion. We're also hearing from some drivers who are complaining about cyclists behavior and who are complaining that they only have one lane to drive in.
Which leads me to wonder how many of the negative comments address the actual bike lanes and how many are just anti-cyclist.
Daily News columnist Stu Bykofsky â who, for the record, I like â got it wrong in his piece today on the new Center City bike lanes.
What's not good was expressed by neighborhood resident Scott Shandler, 33, walking his Boston bull terrier, Lexie, when he saw the press gaggle and asked what was happening. When he learned a full traffic lane of Pine and Spruce had been dedicated (surrendered?) to bicyclists, he said, "I don't like it at all" because "there's not enough room for everyone."
Scott Shandler's right, in a way: lack of space is a big issue, especially in Center City â but because there are too many cars.
Yeah, I know what's coming. You know where the comment section is. But for those out there who didn't blow-torch their ears shut on this issue long ago, hear me out:
You know, perfectly well, drivers â better than anyone â that traffic sucks in Center City. Parking sucks. The streets are narrow; the traffic flow is byzantine.
That's not bikes' fault â it's other cars that are holding you up, buddy. The roots of the problem are more than half a century old. In the glory days of super-cheap gas, we filled our cities with streets, highways, and cars, cars, cars. We built roads bigger and bigger to try and get the cars through them quicker â but they just kept filling up. We built interstate highways through the hearts of our cities â right through beautiful Fairmount Park in our case â and those filled up, too.
Stu complains that we've given "prime real estate" over to bikes â an absurd notion when you compare it with the valuable real estate â virtually our entire city â that we've given over to cars.
The fact that so many people have to drive every day â and no one's saying that isn't the case â is largely the result of half a century of building our cities around cars. We can't reverse those decisions overnight, but putting in a couple of bike lanes is a pretty cheap way to start â a hell of a lot cheaper than those tax-subsidized highways we've all paid for.
Being pro-bike lanes doesn't mean being anti-cars. Hell, the fewer people driving, the less traffic for you, my automotive friend.
And as for Stu's complaint â so often echoed by readers here on the Clog â that bikers behave badly:
Stu: Most of the bad bikers out there are simply inexperienced and scared. Riding in traffic is scary. You want bikes to behave more consistently? Give them a lane.
Which is exactly what we did.
Last, I hereby invite Stu to ride the lanes with me. We can start by the Delaware, end at the Schuylkill, and have some cheese and crackers and talk about it.
|Photo | Brian Howard's Android
They weren't finished as of last night, but they sure do look nice. If you're thinking that the bike lane looks kind of narrow, keep in mind that those two parallel stripes are NOT the lane. They'll be filled in with diagonal lines which will serve as the buffer between the car lane on the left and the bike lane on the right. If you're thinking that that's one huge bike lane, you're right.
|Photo | Brian Howard's Android
If you rode, head on over to the Philadelphia Naked Bike Ride Facebook and post your photos and get in on the commenting.
Oh, and take our PNBR poll:
|Photo | Brian Howard
|The ride concluded at Fifth and Fairmount
City Paper's Neal Santos, who documented the ride from the back of a tandem bike, will have more and better shots from the first ever Philadelphia Naked Bike Ride shortly, but for now here are the shaky shots I snapped while on the ride.
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