Stu Bykofsky: Pushback against those who pedal

Posted: October 17, 2011

PUSHBACK HAS BEGUN against bicyclists, until now given a pass to ride wherever and however they like - including blazing through red lights (most do) and cruising on sidewalks (most don't).

After a couple of years of slow (Mayor Nutter-approved) conversion of car lanes into bicycle lanes, there's still no (Mayor Nutter-promised) serious enforcement to punish two-wheeled lawbreakers.

So now pedalphiles are being targeted by other elected officials and citizens.

* City Councilman Bill Greenlee introduced a bill in May requiring Council hearings before bike lines are thrust on unsuspecting neighborhoods. Greenlee wonders why the mayor can remake streets on his own authority, accountable to no one but the Green Genie.

The idea of public involvement makes bikeheads shriek as though someone slammed them with a car door. They don't want (non-bike-riding) public input.

* Residents of congested Chinatown are petitioning to stop the city's planned theft of one car lane on 10th Street.

Joe Eastman, president of Chinatown Town Watch, says that Chinatown already is jammed and that removing one lane of traffic will make things worse, maybe even hurt business as motorists steer away from the mess. The city said it chose 10th Street partly because it's not a SEPTA bus route. Eastman notes that Greyhound and NJ Transit buses clog the streets.

While Chinatown fights, the city last week began "testing" removal of one car lane from Market and JFK between 15th and 20th for bikes and other benefits. The bikeheads may be surprised to learn that I think that might work because those streets are so wide, unlike 10th street. But the devil is in the details. The city will do a traffic study, but as I previously have reported, it has screwed the pooch on previous studies, sometimes even relying on volunteers from the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, an activist group. Honestly, is that a good practice?

* Traffic Court President Judge Thomasine Tynes, the new love of my life, wants to require the registration of bikes, just like other vehicles. When that idea was proposed two years ago by Councilmen Frank DiCicco and Jim Kenney, pedalists howled like coyotes.

How dare they be asked to register? Condensed, and translated, the cyclists said, kind of like Dr. Seuss: "We are green! We are keen! We do not pollute the air! Registration is not fair!"

Bicycling for Dummies 101 (There may be a quiz at the end): Under Pennsylvania law, bicycles are vehicles and must obey vehicular laws. That includes riding in the same direction as traffic, no blowing red lights, full stops at stop signs, no sidewalk-riding in business districts unless, chronologically, you are a child. (Acting like a child isn't good enough).

If bikes are vehicles, you logically can ask why they shouldn't be registered like other vehicles - and the judge has.

Tynes' reasons include the ability to return stolen bikes, raising revenue and law enforcement. Having a visible license plate would help cops find bicyclist hit-and-run artists. Just like cars.

Bicyclists would rather try to lick their elbows than register.

Judge Tynes points to U.S. cities - Denver; Madison, Wis.; Salt Lake City; Milwaukee - that have registration on the books, along with states such as California (500,000 registered bikes), Kansas, Ohio and Michigan.

Unlike many bikehead blowhards, I am honest and acknowledge that some cities that had bike registration dropped it after pressure from the bike lobby - a loud minority bullying the majority.

The bicycle lobby is yappy about rights, not responsibility. It has been getting its way, but pushback has begun.

Go get 'em, Chinatown.


Email stubyko@phillynews.com or call 215-854-5977. See Stu on Facebook. For recent columns:

www.philly.com/Byko.

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