Thursday, November 19, 2009

Bicycle Coalition Opposes Proposed Bike Regulations

For Immediate Release


November 19, 2009. Philadelphia, PA. The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia opposes bills that are being introduced today by Councilman Frank DiCicco and James Kenney to increase penalties and require license plates on bicycles.

"This is the wrong approach,” said Sarah Clark Stuart, Campaign Director. “Bicyclists shouldn’t be singled out when the problem is all road users – motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians – bending the law to suit their own needs, with little if any consequences. The absence of adequate enforcement has led some road users to develop bad habits that endanger themselves and others.”

“These bills won't make Philadelphia's streets safer," said Advocacy Director John Boyle. "The problem is not that penalties are too low, the problem is that tickets are rarely given out. It is pointless to increase penalties as proposed by Councilman Kenney when the current penalty system has existed only on paper,” he added. Other cities, including Los Angeles, Houston, Washington DC, Detroit, Albuquerque, and the states of Minnesota and Massachusetts have all repealed laws similar to Councilman DiCicco's proposal. Los Angeles' Police Department Chief directly recommended to LA's City Council that their program be discontinued. Said Boyle, “Bicycle license plates are impractical and unworkable. Let’s learn from other cities' experiences and not waste time and resources on an ineffective program.”

“Enforcement can work and up to now, traffic enforcement hasn’t been a priority,” said Breen Goodwin, Education Director. “To achieve better compliance with traffic laws, the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia believes that equitable and consistent education and enforcement of current laws on all road users must be implemented. Until that happens, enacting higher penalties or registration programs is ineffective and counterproductive."

Like many others in Philadelphia, the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia recognizes that the city’s streets are chaotic. In the absence of adequate enforcement, all road users – motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians – bend the law to suit their own needs, with little if any consequences. This situation has led some road users to develop bad habits that endanger themselves and others.

Philadelphia’s streets need to be made safer for everyone. 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. Safety education coupled with enforcement, applied equitably to all road users, is the first step to improve safety for all.

The Philadelphia Police Department appears to be ready to engage in enforcement in tandem with the Bicycle Coalition’s Bicycle Ambassadors education program. The Bicycle Coalition urges City Council to help develop a strategy for an equitable and consistent traffic enforcement and education campaign applicable to all road users. The Bicycle Coalition looks forward to working with city officials to help calm the streets.

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 Philadelphia’s streets.


Jonathan Bringhurst said...

What is their intent in all of this?

If existing laws aren't enforced, does changing the laws to have harsher penalties have any effect on how often they are enforced? I really don't know, seriously, does it have an effect?

Is this a knee-jerk reaction to some specific event that makes them feel that "something needs to be done", however irrelevant it may be?

Regarding enforcement of current laws to bicyclists -- is this really practical? Many of the laws that were implemented are not made with bicyclists in mind. That said, proper enforcement of the current laws would weed out potential issues that need to be addressed instead of creating new laws that don't reflect on what is actually needed.

brett5355 said...

I have to totally agree here. As a Tridestrian (car, bike, and walker) I see full well that the laws we have already are not enforced (Right on Red, Pedestrian Right of way, Jaywalking,Driving and Parking in Bike Lanes ... ad nauseum). What good would it serve to add more laws and another bureaucracy for bicyclists?

Unknown said...

Really unbelievable, what City Council members believe to be important versus unimportant issues of the day. People should be talking about the numerous auto-related hit and runs suffered by bicyclists and pedestrians in this City. Bicyclists are frequently subjected to outright and intentional violence on a daily basis by automobile drivers and even SEPTA bus drivers. This violence includes being verbally harassed, beeped at, or even near-miss side swipes. I commute by bike, and I personally experience this behavior probably once a month or so – where vehicles have plenty of room, yet they choose to pass me, putting only six inches or so between their mirror and my body, or they yell at me to get off the street, etc. I am a safe and defensive bicyclist, helping to make our air cleaner and reduce congestion. But I too ride on a sidewalk from time to time, as I approach a final destination where the street is one-way opposite to my direction of travel. The sidewalk is safer than illegally riding against traffic on a one way street. If I ride on a sidewalk, I only do so when there are no or very few pedestrians around, and I always ride a lot slower than I would on a street due to doorways and other potential access points to pedestrians coming out onto the sidewalk. This is a no brainer – if a bicyclist on a sidewalk is being careful and cautious, then fine, but if I bike is riding on a sidewalk in a dangerous or unruly manner, a police officer should feel free to give the person a ticket, just as they should feel free to give an unruly, or drunk pedestrian a ticket. Bike riders could use some education in this regard, but to ban a bike from being on a sidewalk outright, without enforcing aggressive automobile drivers or without improving the infrastructure for bicycle commuters (such as bike-specific traffic signals among, other things) is pure folly.

Unknown said...

Join the Facebook Group!

Philly Cyclists Against Mandatory License Plates & Increased Penalties

America Y'all said...

Don't just join a facebook group, actually call the city council member that represents you!

Anonymous said...

Just got a copy of the registration law and the statement DiCicco made. He does not address the fact that none of the existing laws are not being enforced.

America Y'all said...

Also the bill gives a pass to those who are not city residents. Think of how many college students ride their bikes around the city while they are here for school and are legally a resident of another state. Don't you think the police will get tired of stopping people who don't have their bike registered only to give them a pass because they aren't residents of philly. This entire bill is completely bogus!

Jimmy said...

Hello Cyclists of Philadelphia,

I am a cyclist in Austin TX, and I just wanted to send a comment to you guys expressing my condolences to your current situation. I read about these new enforcement laws that the city is trying to impose stemming from the Cyclist related deaths back in October. How foolish of the government to try and raise fines. everyone knows by raising fines nothing ever changes. It is rather the ongoing education, enforcement of the laws, and perhaps designing roads that are better equipped to handle all road users.
It's a sad thing that in this society that we live, with lawyers at every corner and a "sensationalist" journalist looking to suck the life out of someone for the sake of a living (if that's what you want to call it), there is always that someone out there who can pose as their "scapegoat" or someone who is "responsible" for the shortcomings of others. Unfortunately for the cycling community of Philadelphia it is you, and my heart goes out to you.
It is a sad thing that 2 people died of another person's alleged negligence and my heart goes out also to the deceased and their bereaved families as well. However, these are perhaps not so commonplace events that don't deserve the overly heavy hand of justice to be rained down upon you.
Keep up the fight!

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