Wednesday, November 18, 2009

City Council to Propose Mandatory Registration, Brakeless Bike Confiscation.

Two bills will be introduced into City Council on Thursday Councilman DiCicco will be introducing a bill would require registration of all bicycles owned by persons 12 and older. Councilman Kenney's bill will raise the fines of sidewalk riding from $50 (which was already raised from $10 in June), and for wearing headphones from $50-$100 dollars to $100-$300 and for bicyclists without brakes face a $1000 fine or confiscation of the bike.

These bills will be first read and sent to committee, which will hold hearings at a later date. Council seems willing and able to listen to our concerns and these bills will most likely be amended before being brought to the hearing.

Read the Full Story in the Daily News

Links to Pennsylvania Bicycle Laws and Philadelphia Bicycle Regulations


Charlie said...

DiCicco's bill would require registration of all bicycles owned by persons 12 and older. DiCicco said that under his proposed legislation - which he said would make it easier to track bikes involved in accidents - the Police Department would handle registration, which would cost $20.
The other parts (although I may disagree) make some sense, but how does registration help? Shouldn't they want to track people involved in accidents and not bikes?
When will all pedestrians register their shoes?

RE: brakes
The law should not require brakes, just a capability of meeting some minimum braking distance. The fact that the state law is wrong is not a reason to codify it in the city.

fh said...

As a driver, I have to deal with bicylists riding the wrong way (which is distracting) or darting in front of my car sometimes (which is scary), but also as someone who rides a bike sometimes, I have to deal with idiotic drivers that don't pay attention, don't drive safely, and cut off bike lanes (which is even more scary). I can easily say names of people I know who have been hit by cars while on their bikes, but it never seems to be frontpage news as an impetus to form some new legislation. If there is going to be such a crackdown on bicyclists, there should be a crackdown on drivers who ride in bike lanes, door people, and cut them off in traffic.

cdags said...

@fh: Bravo. Your views are exactly mine. The crackdown seems to be one sided and I don't expect it to change. There are times when I literally feel like I'm fighting for my life while biking our roads.

Just last week I was cut off while riding in the bike lane - on my bike - by one of Philly's finest. This is the example I typically see set forth in our city.

cdags said...

Also, are there any proposed benefits to bicycle registration? Bicycle registration in Honolulu ($15 one-time fee) funds bicycle related city projects.

In Philadelphia, I suspect that bicycle registration will merely keep bicyclists "accountable."

Anonymous said...

The deaths of those pedestrians were unfortunate tragedies. However, we should not have to require bikes to have tags. Even a blind person can see that this is nothing but a way for the City of Philadelphia to make more money off of people.

If there is a requirement to get tags on a human-powered vehicle that has an an average speed of 12 MPH, bikers ought as well drive. I would away my bike and I will drive a car instead.

The City is trying to impose rules that are unfair and unjust. We must take action to stop them from mandating this law. We must have a protest so that way we can at least have our voices heard.

Anonymous said...

wow what a complete waste of city resources. there is no way the fees they collect will cover all of the resources required to pull this off on their end. and that is before we address the lack of any real benefit or ability to implement this on a city wide (or even center city) basis. focus on ticketing bikers on their cell phones, going the wrong way down the street, or riding (recklessly) on the sidewalk.

Pete LaVerghetta said...

The no brakes is covered by the state regs that say something like 'bicycles shall be equipped with a brake that can stop the vehicle in X feet on a smooth level surface.' Courts routinely throw out local laws that try to trump state laws (see guns, cell phones). Licensing and registration is doomed to fail. That leaves sidewalk cyclists, the worst menace.

Anonymous said...

"bicyclists without brakes face a $1000 fine or confiscation of the bike."

what does this mean for fixed gear cyclists? I assumed from the article that they are trying to require bicycles to have a visible front break?

Abny said...

I agree with fh. These rules seem very one sided. I'm all for cyclists obeying traffic rules, but, though I know a lot of cyclists come down on other cyclists for riding on the sidewalk, I personally feel that in many cases when riding on the road feels unsafe, it's understandable that a cyclist would seek refuge on the sidewalk. I've done it. It's not that I want to ride on the sidewalk. I would prefer to ride on the road. But when there aren't bike lanes or cars aren't respecting them, it can be hazardous to ride on the road. Until bikers are treated the same as other vehicles on the road and allowed to get some kind of insurance like cars can, fining a biker for riding on the sidewalk -- especially an amount like $300 -- seems unfair. It's not addressing the real problem. Bikers ride on the sidewalk because they feel unsafe. No biker would choose to ride on the sidewalk otherwise.

Anonymous said...

"registration of all bicycles owned by persons 12 and older"

And what about people who are just riding through the city, not residents? This part is probably not legal under state law.

Stuart said...

The $1,000 anti-brakeless fine is outrageous. Do they have any studies or any kind of evidence at all to justify it? A $1,000 low seat fine would make just as much sense.

Anonymous said...

I am so tired of the stereotyping that this is based on. I follow the rules of the road but automobile drivers are routinely aggressive towards me in part because of other reckless bicyclists. I am in favor of the increased fines (although $1000 for no brakes seems excessively expensive and targeted specifically at hipsters and messenger lookalikes), but the bicycle registration is, in my opinion, a very bad idea. Bikes are relatively cheap, so like many riders, I have a road bike, rain bike, mountain bike, single speed mountain bike, a bike with a child seat, a grocery getter... There is no way I would or even could afford to register them all. Philadelphia can and should crack down on reckless bicycling. That is easy to do and doesn't require registration. As far as a comprehensive program to track and capture bicycle based criminals, I don't think that is the biggest problem Philadelphia is facing right now.

It's easy to target bicyclists because we are still a small minority. If this were instead a proposal to fingerprint all residents over 12 to make it easier to track down criminals, there would rightfully be city wide outrage.

Anonymous said...

While it's great that the coalition is reviewing the bill and will work with the city council. How about posting a copy so the rest of us can see it?

I don't live in Philadelphia, but I do ride my bicycle in Philadelphia. Does bike registration apply only to city residents? How much is it going to cost? Am I going to have a license plate on my bike?

The coalition should allow everyone to give input on this bill. But we can't since we can't read it.

What is being done to get the police to enforce existing traffic laws to protect cyclists when they are hit by a car?

Anonymous said...

@fh, I too have to drive through the city on weekdays but then am an avid bicycle user on the weeknights and weekends so I have a few comments to this...

1) Yes, the recent bike incidents are horrible tragedies, however, you never hear an out cry when a biker gets killed in a hit and run. Remember those two that happened in August in the same weekend? Have we found those people?

2) Everyone needs to change how they act, in a car, on a bike, and walking/running. Cars, put down the cell phone, use your turning signals, and stop throwing open your car doors when you see a bike coming. Bikes, stop at a red light, get a full set of lights, wear a helmet, and stop riding like you have a suicide note in your back pocket. Walkers/Runners, dont look at me coming on a bike, ignore me, and cross the street anyway, the bike lane is not an area to stand in while your waiting for the light to change. Everyone, take the ipod out and so you can hear if someone calls out to you. Serious, pet peeve of mine when driving, biking, or running.

3) Now on registering bikes. I begrudgingly like this idea for a few reasons. One, it will help to make bikers more accountable for their actions on the road. Two, may help to recover some stolen bikes.
4) Fines. Riding on the sidewalk, okay I agree with you hear, but acknowledge how dangerous it can be for bikers out on the roads. Headphones, definitely, you have to be just a f*cking idiot to ride with headphones on (this goes for you people who drive your car with headphones on) just reckless across the board. Brakeless bike fine, wow really, absurd. Now, I can understand both sides of the argument here. Fixies take a certain pride in their skill to ride brakeless, however, having a safety line in the city is just sensible. Others dont understand how much control you actually can have on a fixie. But $1000 fine, might as well just give them your bike and go buy a new one.

4) Finally, where will the money from these tickets go? Prob not to make more bike lanes or bike racks.

America Y'all said...

Bike registration? Seriously?

The coalition better fight that, mandatory registration is in no way a good thing for bicycling.

Stuart said...

Upon further reflection I have decided these are anti-cycling measures, plain and simple.

They are not designed to increase cyclist or pedestrian safety, they are not to help people recover stolen bicycles, and they certainly are not for increasing the number of cyclists on the road. To the contrary, they are designed strictly to reduce the number of cyclists on the road in Philadelphia.

America Y'all said...

Couldn't have said it any better Stuart......guess it's time to move to Portland.

Unfashionistable said...

I don't really understand how bicycle registration would help anything… would you get a license plate? If someone gets hit by a bike, it's unlikely that they'll be able to say "uh, he was riding a Trek 850, I think it was mountain green" … they'll say "green bike" or "bike."

If a meaningful way of tracking bikes and an effort to locate them was put in place (i.e. routine audits of used bike inventories or something) was part of it, I'd be more supportive.

But frankly, this seems like a way to boost revenue with no actual benefit to the citizens.


But I'm in favor of the no-brakes ordinance, mostly. Although I think they should follow Berlin's model and have the rule be a modest fine ($100 or so) with automatic bike confiscation and a system in place that the individual can register to have their bike delivered to a shop that will install brakes on the bike.

Bikes without brakes are dangerous. Maybe someone who knows what they're doing can stop acceptably, but anecdotally I've noticed that people on brakeless fixies tend to try to avoid stopping at all costs, and that's a dangerous habit.

Seriously, I have such a hard time that reasonable people would really chafe at being required to have brakes on a metal vehicle that can do 20 mph and weigh 200 lbs. (with rider).

Anonymous said...

Just got off the phone with Councilman DiCicco’s office. The bike registration bill will be introduced tomorrow, at this time it does not have a bill number assigned to it so you can look it up on line. When it is introduced you can search for it here, Just select DiCicco’s name in the “bill sponsor” pull down menu.

It would have been nice if the BCGP had given us this information to begin with, instead of a press release. I hope that this is not an indication of the concessions they could make on our behalf with informing anyone.

Denise fike said...

Bikers. There are rules for drivers. There are rules for bikers. Most of the drivers tend to obey the rules of traffic, except for the drivers from Jersy. MOST OF THE BIKERS TEND TO TOTALLY DISREGARD THE RULES.I have yet to see a biker STOP at a stop sign. seems coasting is the norm. Obey the rules, as we drivers must, or risk penalty, as we drivers do.

Wayne said...

Crackdowns on bicyclists and such efforts as registration are a natural followup to demand for bicycle facilities. Quit whining for bike lanes and this doesn't happen.

Tom said...

That Daily News article is such garbage.

"The trend with some of our delivery-service people and messengers, for whatever reason, is to remove the brakes," Kenney said. "It's a state law that bicycles [must] have brakes."

Apparently Councilman Kenney doesn't know what a fixed gear bike is, but he's proposing a $1000 fine on them. That's bad enough but the reporter doesn't even try to fill in the missing info. To anyone reading the article who doesn't already know about bike culture, this sounds like a fine on people with no ability to stop. Of course people will support that. It's embarrassingly misinformed and misleading all around.

Does anyone have any hard facts on the effects of bicycle registration? I can't imagine this will help with bike use growth, but I'm wondering if there are past examples in cities where the effect was measured.

j9090 said...

Nanny laws. Why not crack down on all the pedestrians who are hit by cars? Hell, why don't the philly cops enforce traffic laws anyway? This wont pass. This is just a councilmans attempt to get his name in the paper. Who is going to enforce bike registration anyway? The same cops who are keeping our streets safe from guns, muggings, and... Oh yeah, they do a bang up job there too.

Anonymous said...

Can't imagine there would be any objection from anyone on this thread or at the Bicycle Coalition for fining a sidewalk rider $300 in a business district, which is all of Center City and University City.

Mandatory registration and riding with a license plate of sorts is a method of making potentially reckless bike riders think twice before they do so. If the killer of Andre Steed had one on his bike would he still be at large?

This is not Big Brother. Do major European cities employ these laws? If so, why can't we?

C. said...

It's a good thing that none of this will ever be enforced. Remember when Philly police publicly stated their unwillingness to pursue ATVs involved in fatal hit-and-runs? The recent pedestrian-cyclist tragedies allegedly involved riders engaging in "worst offender" behavior. When bike cops are themselves often the "worst offenders," what can really be expected? Clearly it's more important to target minor infractions instead.

Anonymous said...

Mandatory registration and riding with a license plate of sorts is a method of making potentially reckless bike riders think twice before they do so. If the killer of Andre Steed had one on his bike would he still be at large?

License plates on cars seem to make little if any difference when they hit pedestrians in Philadelphia.

Alex Mather said...

Did Councilmen Kenney and DiCicco consult the coalition before proposing these bills?

Kneejerk legislation is embarrassing to everyone involved.

Anonymous said...

These are not "best practices" for handling the rise in urban cycling, or traffic management, or for preventing accidents.

Indeed, nothing good can come from any of these proposals--because they are intended only as a slap, only as an expression of anti-cycling sentiment.

Cyclists: unite and fight this harassment!

Anonymous said...

These proposals are simply anti-cyclist measures. Registration of bikes has failed in many cities already. I've written an email to my city council member and to the members who are proposing this legislation to tell them that I oppose it. A $300 fine for biking on the sidewalk? What's the fine for parking on the sidewalk and when is that enforced? Please, contact your council members and voice your opposition there instead of here! It is tragic and sad that two people died when struck by bicycles but it does not compare the the numbers injured and killed daily by cars. I also wish this article were a little better written, for example making it clear that the proposal for raising the fine for biking on sidewalks will increase from $50 to $300. That's a huge increase.

patrick said...

Absolutely. Anti-cyclist.

I'm all for the sidewalk-riding law, though $300 is way too steep. Leave it at $50 and enforce it, and that'll be enough incentive for people to not be lazy (i.e., people ride on sidewalks when the street is going the wrong way) or to get over mostly-irrational fears and bike in the bike lane. Yes, accidents occasionally happen when you bike in the road, but they're far more likely on the sidewalk.

The anti-fixie and registration regulations are sheer public-appeasing prejudice, though. There's no question that people who ride brakeless are almost certainly able to do so. Registration won't prevent anything. It's a tax on a currently-unpopular minority that will overwork the PPD far past its benefits.

I'm sick to death of non-bikers screaming for stop-sign and red-light enforcement of cyclists. What about for cars, people? Have you ever seen a car not do a rolling stop at a stop sign? How about buses and taxis (and others) inching (or more) onto the crosswalk and into the intersection when they think a light is about to change? Bikes can be dangerous, yes, but they don't have a literal ton of metal behind their motion. Bikes are not cars. They are lighter, more maneuverable, and afford much much better visibility.

And speaking of the differences, don't get me started on cars (especially taxis) that floor the gas from stoplight to stoplight, easily reaching 40-45, then slamming on the brakes 10 yards from the traffic light. Not only is this terrible for the environment (air and noise pollution), but it exacerbates the gas crisis to no end, and probably causes more accidents in a year than bikes do in a decade.

Enough has been said about pedestrians already. They appear from nowhere and jaywalk across the street, ignore red lights at intersections, then have the gall to act like cyclists are the only/biggest problem with Center City traffic? Infuriating.

This is all to say... if drivers and pedestrians were saints, then I would not chafe at calls for a crackdown on "scofflaw cyclists". But with rampant lawlessness by ALL travelers who believe that saving a few seconds (at most) is worth lives, well... PPD has bigger problems than a cyclist rolling through an obviously-clear intersection.

gabbazoo said...

The city just wants to take our money as usual, and provide less and less services. Everything carries a fee. I already give them over 10% of my income. WE should definitely protest any bicycle registration that includes a fee that will then let them levy fines on more people because they are registered.

gabbazoo said...

Also, I have to disagree with others, riding on the sidewalk should NOT be illegal if it is not done recklessly. Some areas are very dangerous to ride in the street. In Tokyo, commuters ride on the sidewalks (where they have them) all the time, and no one has an issue with that. Cyclists don't ride too fast, and they use a bell (duh) to signal pedestrians if they are approaching from behind. I don't see why Americans could not manage to do this as well. Well, except maybe because we are mostly stupid.

murphstahoe said...

"It's a good thing that none of this will ever be enforced."

Worse - it could be utilized as an excuse for the police to pull someone over who they are profiling for some other crime.

cdags said...

Re: Enforcement

There were a total of 11 tickets written for a vehicle blocking a lane of traffic from Jan to Aug 2009. This includes but is not exclusive to bike lanes.

I've seen more than 11 vehicles parked in bike lanes while riding three blocks of the Spruce/Pine lanes.

There are laws and associated fines against littering in Philadelphia.

Now I ask, do we really think any of this will actually be enforced?

Steve B said...

Mandatory bicycle registration is a bad idea, it presents a serious barrier to increase bicycle ridership and will undoubtedly give Police a reason to harass cyclists without any other due cause.

A similar bill was proposed in the Oregon state senate this year, but was vehemently opposed by the bicycle community.

It's important that Philly residents who ride bicycles fight this sort of legislation. It is equally important for the bicycle community to fight the myth that cyclists do not share in the costs of our roads.

Steve B said...

Here is more info on the Oregon bill:

Anonymous said...

Among all of the other totally illogical points in this bill: (1) how BIG would a license plate have to be be so that people could see it on a hit-and-run ? (2) Does anyone know how many bikers and pedestrians are hit by hit-and-run drivers in the city in a year and are never found ? (and they all have license plates) (3) Does DiCicco not remember bill # 090444, which already addresses bicycles on the sidewalk (along with a fine) ? (passed on 5/21/2009).

Anonymous said...

Agreed, this is ridiculous and an aggressive act toward the bicycling community who, even if not perfect, is most definitely -- objectively -- costing this city far less in terms of health care, pollution (noise and air), subsidized public transport, and public infrastructure. That doesn't even count costs for police and emergency services due to accidents which, let's be real, are caused by cars like 98% of the time. (The only reason the recent and tragic sidewalk accident is getting any press is that it is such a freakishly rare occurrence.)

And for all the collective good bicyclists do, what do we get back? Daily abuse and serious risk to our life and limbs. And now they want to shackle us with bureaucratic registration and ridiculously high fines?!?! Really? Are we so dangerous as a community to require registration and confiscations? It's insulting.

I don't care if it's just a PR stunt, it shows DiCicco is anti-bike and wants to demotivate and limit biking at a time when all government officials should be encouraging it. Shame on him and shame on the Bicycle Coalition if you don't come out strong and represent the interest of our community. This is why some of us pay dues.

Everyone needs to write DiCicco and his fellow councilmen and the mayor. Go to:


Anonymous said...

The PA State Law includes a distance requirement:

(c) Brakes. - Every pedalcycle shall be equipped with a braking system which will stop the pedalcycle in 15 feet from an initial speed of 15 miles per hour on a dry, level and clean pavement.

Anonymous said...

This is what we need people to understand:

Anonymous said...

this is for center city white peeps. i dont think they will be enforcing this where i live in north philly. hipsters and white people have the money, right? besides, here in north philly the cops dont stop ATV's from riding like a$$holes and they sure as hell wont be stopping dealers on their bikes as they circle corners through the hood.

who can blame cyclists from riding on the sidewalk when drivers can be such a$$.

sounds like a money maker to me.

John S. Allen said...

Owning bicycles for different uses is very convenient (for example, cargo bike, tandem, commuter bike, club riding bike, mountain bike, folding bike, touring bike, racing bike) -- or on discovering that one has a flat tire when about to leave for work in the morning. Does the proposed ordinance require that each be registered separately, with the corresponding registration fee? What a pain, ande what a complete discouragement to people who use bicycles enough to care about having more than one. Any enforcement measure (or parking-garage registration, for that matter) should track the rider, not the bicycle.

Unknown said...

Give me a damn bicycle lane and I won't ride on your stupid sidewalks. There's too many people who ride bikes to work to save the environment and time. Now you want to fine me for it??? Philadelphia is a big enough city that the city workers and council members need to work on commending bicyclists rather than cutting off their wheels. cmon Nutter. Do something. It can't be one sided all the time!

dutherkins said...

I don't need brakes to stop. This is a load of malarky! I don't want to be spending money on worthless weight when i can stop just fine sticking my between the frame and tire. That is the equivalent of a brakepad but the rubber is my shoe instead of some silly pads. Hope this goes away in peace.

Unknown said...

This is all dumb....when will bicyclist OBEY the CURRENT traffic laws....hmmm how about Philly's finest start ticketing bikes for running red lights, riding the wrong way, and failing to yield to pedestrians. I have almost been hit by more bicyclist than cars as a pedestrian. I get what this guy is going for but it is not going to work.

Anonymous said...

Some experiences of mine-

1. Several times walking across intersections I've almost been hit by drivers making rights on red or not stopping at stop signs.

2. Several times walking on the sidewalk I've almost clotheslined bikers or been hit from the front.

3. Biking I've almost hit pedestrians several times who disregarded me as a vehicle and walked on red, or whom walked across not at the crosswalks.

4. Driving I've almost hit several bikers who didn't stop or even slow at poor visibility intersections.

5. Biking I've been hit by cars who decided to be in the bike lane.

6. Sundays and Saturdays, also, the bike lanes in CC are unusable due to Church Parkers.

The list goes on and on of violations on others' parts that have almost resulted in harm to me or others. Everyone is making mistakes that are dangerous. We all need to learn respect. That being said, biking in this city sucks, cars are always in bike lanes and don't give an eff if you let them know, and there aren't enough bike lanes.

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I really think a burley bike trailer could have saved the day.

Anonymous said...
Maybe the better route is to make bicycle riders get a license. I'm not sure where you draw the line. It's going to be tougher to find a place on a bike to display a sticker.

I'm all for making biking safer, to me that means having a dedicated lane for people to ride their bikes. Bicyclists aren't the only ones creating a dangerous situation.