Read below for the BCGP's statement based on our current knowledge of the bills' content. We will develop a formal position once the legislation has been introduced.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009 6PM
Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia statement on proposed Council legislation to increase penalties and mandate bicycle registration
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 Peer cities and states have passed and then repealed registration and licensing programs.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.