Stu Bykofsky: If bicyclists want rights, they should follow rules

As if to prove one of Stu's points, an unidentified bicyclist rides the wrong way near the intersection of 15th and Market. EDITORIAL, Page 19.
As if to prove one of Stu's points, an unidentified bicyclist rides the wrong way near the intersection of 15th and Market. EDITORIAL, Page 19.
Posted: November 23, 2009

JUMP ON MY handlebars. Let's go for a ride.

While I was interviewing and researching for today's stanza, part of my thunder was stolen last week by Councilmen James Kenney and Frank DiCicco when they proposed legislation to enforce reality on bicyclists who want everything, to paraphrase Old Blue Eyes, "their way."

September's "Naked Bike Ride" illustrated how some bikers feel about "rules."

Morally superior ("We don't pollute, nyah, nyah") to begin with, bikers got a boost in June when Mayor Nutter, in a Martin Luther (bicyl)King moment, signed an executive order giving equal treatment to bikes. That helped turn frosty relations between cars and bikes into a grease fire.

I am for cars sharing the road with bikes. Sharing the road equally is insane.

I concede that there are reckless and stupid motorists who endanger bikers, pedestrians and other motorists. They should be prosecuted and I have condemned them in the past.

In September, the city surrendered one of two traffic lanes on Spruce and Pine streets in Center City to cyclists.

What kind of a perverted quota system gives 50 percent of any city street - designed for cars - to bikes, which account for 1.2 percent of Philadelphia commuters? That figure comes from the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, an advocacy group that the city is allowing to do the bike count on Pine and Spruce. That's a bad practice, like letting a defense lawyer buy the jury lunch.

Bikers demand equal access, which they already have, but don't want equal treatment.

Kenney would dramatically hike fines for illegal biking. DiCicco wants bikes to be registered, like cars.

Cyclists showed up at City Council howling like scalded dogs. They want nothing changed - except they want more and more of the roadway. What's needed, they said, is "enforcement." (Should we actually get enforcement, I predict they will be crying about being "singled out.")

DiCicco's idea was a good start.

Let's put more on the table. If you want parity with cars, how can you not agree to be insured? Last month two people were killed by cyclists. That was rare, but if we get more cyclists, as seems to be the city's wet dream, we'll get more injury and death.

Let's license adult bikers as we do motorists, to assure that they are competent and know the law.

No more parking anywhere you want for free. Like cars, you will park only in designated areas. You will feed a meter or pay for space on a rack, in a lot or garage.

(Special note to Mayor Greenjeans: Added revenue!)

Did I mention that your bike must have a horn or bell, brakes, a rear-view mirror, front and rear lights, all of which will be tested annually in a city-licensed bike shop? You will wear a helmet and reflective tape for safety.

As already is required by law, you will stop at red lights and stop signs, signal for turns, ride on the right and in the same direction as traffic and stay off the damn sidewalks.

I believe that there will be bicycle enforcement. I also believe that Iran is not working on a nuclear bomb and that Marilyn Monroe is shacked up with JFK in a Florida retirement village.

The facts on enforcement:

In 2008, Philadelphia police wrote 270,929 tickets for automobile moving violations.

In 2008, Philadelphia police wrote 14 tickets for bicycle violations. "The cops are cracking down this year," police spokesman Sgt. Ray Evers deadpanned when we spoke two weeks ago. "We're already up to 14." It's probably a bit higher today.

Deputy Mayor Rina Cutler told me that the city's Big Wheel plans are predicated on enforcement and that police have officially promised cooperation. (They have to.)

FOP President John McNesby told me that there will be "no enforcement" because "we're down 400 cops from last year."

Do you want cops pulling over bikers and ignoring bandits?

If we want enforcement, give it to the Philadelphia Parking Authority. We'll get enforcement out the wazoo.

Can we be real? Bicycling is good recreation, good for the environment and for the waistline, but it will never be a serious mode of transportation in and around Philly. Bikes will always be bit players. Even in China, the instant a peasant has enough yuan for an air-fouling car, the bike goes into the shed.

Here, City Council just approved pedicabs, another traffic-clogging annoyance, joining horse-drawn carriages. What's next - rickshaws? (What's really next is special rules for SEPTA buses. That's being planned.)

I'll close with a delicious ironical tidbit: Some cyclists are whining that joggers are using bike lanes instead of the sidewalk.

Everything that goes around . . .

E-mail stubyko@phillynews.com or call 215-854-5977. For recent columns:

http://go.philly.com/byko.

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