Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Police Will Be Cracking Down On Unsafe Cycling In South Philly

This morning, the Philadelphia Daily News ran a story about the 3rd Police District's plans to crack down on illegal cycling behavior. Police will be issuing warnings until Labor Day, and then will switch to citations. This is part of the City's Give Respect, Get Respect campaign.

South Philly streets, such as 15th above, are narrow. Hugging the shoulder can be more dangerous than taking the lane. 
This is a good time to remind all cyclists that we belong in the street, following the rules of the road, and not on the sidewalk. Surprise yourself with the respect you will be shown if you treat pedestrians and drivers as entitled to safe navigation of our streetscapes. When you bike, you represent all bicyclists. Don't be a jerk. Drivers and pedestrians just want us to be predictable and respectful.

At the same time, be smart. We have all encountered drivers who believe (through ignorance or anger) that bicyclists belong on the sidewalk (or in absurd will.i.am music videos). Riding in the center of the lane on narrow South Philly streets is often safer than attempting to hug the side of the road, where you can get doored or struck by drivers attempting to squeeze past. If you feel threatened by an aggressive vehicle, pull into an empty parking spot and let them speed their way to the next red light. Remember that you're a happier person than they are, and thus you are already winning.

7 comments:

Aaron said...

interesting.
does that mean they'll be ticketing these aggressive drivers?
are they gonna start enforcing parking and motorist laws then too?

of course not.
the "crack down" is gonna be just like it was in Center City. There'll be some bike cops getting a photo-op ticketing some hispanic and asian deliverymen, on exactly one day, and then the whole thing will fade away.

Aaron said...

interesting.
does that mean they'll be ticketing these aggressive drivers?
are they gonna start enforcing parking and motorist laws then too?

of course not.
the "crack down" is gonna be just like it was in Center City. There'll be some bike cops getting a photo-op ticketing some hispanic and asian deliverymen, on exactly one day, and then the whole thing will fade away.

Terry Lo said...

they should all go back to penndot and learn that all cyclist has the right to ride on the road, even take up 1 entire lane!!

Terry Lo said...

all motorist should go back to penndot to learn about safety and watch out for cyclist as we have all the rights to ride on the road, even take up 1 entire lane!! tired of being called ride on the sidewalk

Corey said...

I don't particularly care for the last statement: Remember that you're a happier person than they are, and thus you are already winning. We shouldn't seek to be pitting people against each other. We're all out there together, simply trying to get to where we're going.

While I believe in cyclist law-abidance and law enforcement, I don't expect this to be a particularly effective campaign. Have you considered why so many cyclists aren't following the rules?

I also find the underlying message to be a form of victim-blaming. "Unsafe Cycling" seems to suggest that cyclists are themselves responsible for the injury caused to them by dangerous motor vehicles.

I would implore readers to think about a Dutch concept called "Stress Avoidance Behavior." It's from the CROW Design Manual for Bicycle Traffic.

Running a red light is a form of stress avoidance. Riding in the wrong place is much the same. The cyclist might be doing this because there is something wrong with the design or because the street is too dangerous. Here's a bit of commentary about the concept.

I'd like to see us all work toward a more comprehensive solution. I think that finger-pointing and occasional ticketing blitzes could prove to exacerbate a misunderstanding of the problem.

Nicholas Mirra said...

Thoughtful comments, Corey! The last sentence was written mostly in jest, although I do believe that people in the grip of road rage are, at least in that moment, less happy than people riding bicycles. We shouldn't forget that bicycling is a joyful activity.

We at the Bicycle Coalition have begun studying South Philly street corridors in the hopes of identifying infrastructure improvements that would improve the street experience for all users. In short, exactly what you're proposing: less conflict through better design, rather than through behavioral change.

Unfortunately, funding is only one of the impediments we will face in implementing smart transportation infrastructure like the stuff seen in Europe. In the meantime, we must frequently work within the systems we've got now. We are in favor of active police enforcement so long as it is equitably distributed among all road users. We'll see at the end of this new campaign how that goes.

We are always looking for volunteers who are engaged and passionate about bicycling transportation in our region. If you'd be interested in getting involved, please shoot an e-mail to Steve Taylor, our volunteer coordinator (steve [at] bicyclecoalition [dot] org).

Ron Ashworth said...

I hope this enforsement is targeting sidewalks, reverse traffic riders, and aggressive red light riders.
there is the caveat...
just like right turns on Red for motorist years ago made since, Bicyclist yielding on Red and proceeding if not encumbering cross traffic makes alot more sense for all involved.

If they do ticket all Red light situations I for one will begin to ride center lane and Stop at ALL Red lights. I will have a smile as I know I will be tying up Rush hr traffic in the mornings and evenings.

I do yeild to traffic by riding to the right of the Road and giving leave (out of respect).

As I do not have the same momentum as a vehicle and can stop in a much shorter distance yeilding makes much more sense. As well as having to recreate that momentum at15 to 20 mph speed from a dead stop again and again(once again respect)