BY ASHLEY MYERS For the last day or two bicycling has consumed Philadelphia media. Yesterday the Philadelphia Bike Coalition’s Education Department met with Captain Wilson from the Philadelphia Police 9th District (one of Center City’s departments) to discuss enforcing the city’s bike laws. The meeting determined that as of today bike laws will tighten and a new education campaign about bicycling in the city will begin. After two recent deaths involving careless biking, police are going to enforce traffic rules that prohibit cyclists from riding on sidewalks, blowing through red lights and stop signs, and riding the wrong way on the road. The initiative is not only going after cyclists, but also motorists driving in bike lines, illegally double parking or driving aggressively. There will be police units on Spruce and Pine streets today ticketing these drivers.
As on 1p.m. today, the Central Bicycle Enforcement Initiative began in Rittenhouse Square. Members of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia are providing information on bicycle laws, rules, and safety for those who don’t know the rules of the road or maybe forgot. What does this all mean? It means the tension between motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists in the city is reaching critical mass. Many in the bike community are upset because they feel singled out by the new tightening of laws. In a phone conversation earlier, a friend told me he was “thanked” by an older women for not riding on the sidewalk at 11th and Arch while he was waiting at a stoplight. Moments later, he rode past two women and one commented, “motherfucking bicyclists gonna get hurt.” Needless to say, my friend was unhappy about both comments directed to him while riding his bicycle.
Laws regarding bicycling are not bad at all. However, it’s the higher fines, and the spotlight being put on the cycling community that may pose a problem. There’s arguments that registering bikes, enforcing laws, and raising fines could be a way for the city to make a quick buck. It’s hard to tell who’s right or wrong about all of this. The most important thing is the safety of all those on the road. Perhaps the easiest way to solve this could be by motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists reaching a mutual respect for each other.