Council eyes new bike-ride regs

Posted: November 18, 2009

As bicycle ridership increases - along with related accidents - two City Councilmen want to make sure that cyclists don't become safety hazards.

Councilmen Jim Kenney and Frank DiCicco plan to introduce several pieces of legislation tomorrow that would set tougher standards for Philadelphia cyclists.

"It's a good thing people are using more and more bicycles for transportation," Kenney said. "But there are rules they have to follow."

Kenney's legislation would increase the fine for riding on the sidewalk from $10 to $300, increase the fine for riding with headphones from $3 to $300 and require that people on bicycles without brakes face a $1,000 fine or confiscation.

"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."

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.

Bicycle ridership is on the rise in Philadelphia and the city is encouraging more people to get around on two wheels. Recently, the city added bike lanes to Pine and Spruce streets in Center City.

But accidents and fatalities involving bicycles have accompanied the growth in two-wheel transit. Two city residents died last month after being hit by bicycles. Paralegal Andre Steed, 40, died after an apparent collision with a cyclist at 16th and Locust, and Tom Archie, 78, was struck and killed by a bicyclist in South Philadelphia.

DiCicco stressed that he was glad that more people are riding bicycles.

"This is not an attempt to put any roadblocks on that effort," he said. "This is a way in which we can educate people riding bicycles to obey the rules of the road."

Sarah Clark Stuart, campaign director for the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, said that the group hoped to work with Council on the legislation.

"We do need time to read and analyze the bills before we can declare positions about them," Stuart said. "But we share Council's concerns about reducing chaos in the streets. But we want the city to take effective measure to calm the streets and increase all road users' compliance with traffic laws."

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