Road Rage at Philly Newspapers

Why are Ronnie and Stu whipping up fear when cars and trucks pose a bigger threat?

By Brendan Skwire
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 56 | Posted Nov. 29, 2009

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Philly's bicyclists aren't catching a break from the city's newspapers.

Photo by Joel Mathis

It's hard to find a friend to Philly bicyclists at the city's daily newspapers these days. Take three opinion pieces that ran in the days following the police department's crackdown on errant cyclists — amidst proposals in City Council to layer on additional rules and costly licensing for bicyclists.

In the Daily News, Ronnie Polaneczky griped about bike messenger wannabes on "brakeless bikes" careening through the streets "for the sake of looking cool." That prospect, she said, "is reason enough to enforce the state law requiring brakes on all bikes."

The same day, the Inky editorialized that "the Police Department's welcome crackdown on bike safety was launched after two Philadelphia men died from injuries suffered after cyclists hit them last month. The move shows the city is trying to balance the safety needs of motorists, bikers, and pedestrians."

And Stu Bykofsky offered up another one of his broadsides, slamming bicyclists for their "moral superiority" and lambasting Mayor Nutter for devoting portions of Spruce and Pine streets to bicycle lanes.

"I am for cars sharing the road with bikes," Bykofsky wrote. "Sharing the road equally is insane."

For me, a bicyclist and a driver, this brings up a number of questions:

Have any of these writers ever ridden a so-called "brakeless bike"?

Do any of these writers regularly ride in Center City period?

Do they have any idea how many pedestrians have been killed or injured by people riding "brakeless bikes" -- they're properly called "fixed-gear bikes" -- versus how many pedestrians have been killed by reckless motorists who do have brakes? So far as I know a grand total of two people have been killed by bicyclists this year. In 2008, 92 people died in Philadelphia car crashes, and that number was a five-year low.

Of course, cars don't tend to end up on sidewalks the way bicyclists often do. But the fetish with "staying off the sidewalks" is not only overblown, it ignores the exact reasons why cyclists -- who would generally prefer to stick to the road -- occasionally end up there anyway. Just take a look at how often the city's few bike lanes have no room for bikes. Have you noticed how many cars are driving or parking in the lane designated for bicycles?

A bicyclist in that situation seems to have three choices: stop, and wait for the dangerous polluting leviathan to get out of the way, a potentially dangerous choice during rush hour; squeeze between two moving vehicles and risk a "Malachi Crunch"; or hop on the sidewalk briefly and go around the deadly machines before returning to the bike lane.

But I guess this is the kind of institutional knowledge that only a bicyclist could have. That's knowledge apparently missing at Philly's daily newspapers. As is any sense of why bicycles might be a useful form of transportation in the city.

We are, after all, supposed to be encouraging people to "go green": that's certainly Polaneczky's stated aim at Philly.com's "Earth to Philly" blog. But articles like hers, the Inky's unsigned editorial, and Stu Bykofsky's tantrum undermine bicycling as a credible alternative to cars, representing bicyclists as public menaces and supporting efforts to bureaucratize one of the few modes of transportation relatively free of state control -- and easily available to the poor. In fact, much like the freakout over the SEPTA strike, the columns I've seen about bikes primarily serve to whip up public anger and fear.

I realize our dailies' coverage of the SEPTA strike was all about weakening the union, but I'm not sure what the motivation is here, except for one strong suspicion. By making bikers a scapegoat for a variety of Philadelphia's traffic problems, you soften them up to be tapped for revenue enhancement. All those new licenses proposed by Councilman Fraank DiCicco's, along with the fines and forfeitures offered by Councilman James Kenney, add up to a pretty penny for a city that's practically bankrupt. Even better, you don't have to call it a tax when you wrap yourself in the mantle of public safety.

The disconnect here is rather blatant: cars clearly contribute way more to death and injury in our city, but no one's talking about jacking their fines. This isn't about public safety as the Daily News, the Inky, and Councilmen James Kenney and Frank DiCicco claim. It's about generating revenue for a bankrupt city. Let's face it, drivers are backed by powerful lobbies like AAA while bikes ... not so much.

If this was about public safety, cars and trucks -- which vastly outnumber, outpace, and outweigh bikes -- would be in the city's crosshairs. You won't get that story in Philly's daily newspapers.

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COMMENTS

Comments 1 - 56 of 56
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1. A Driver said... on Nov 30, 2009 at 09:27AM

“Wah, cars shouldn't be allowed on the streets of a major city.”

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2. danya said... on Nov 30, 2009 at 09:56AM

“Actually, A Driver, cars shouldn't be allowed on streets of major cities. In the future, we'll see this happen. You'll park on the outskirts & take public transportation or bicycles (or YikeBike auto-trains) in and around.”

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3. A Driver said... on Nov 30, 2009 at 10:28AM

“Silly me. Here I thought streets were paved for automobiles, but learned something new today.”

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4. Brian said... on Nov 30, 2009 at 10:31AM

“Danya, there is no chance, not one, that public transportation would be able to fulfill the needs of a major city, let alone Philadelphia. And bikes for all of the others? Right... now, just answer me one question; how does that stop the problem of bikes running stop signs? Would every street now require a traffic light? Cause that's going to happen too. All I'm saying Danya, is that your fantasy bicycle, utopian world is first and foremost just that; a fantasy. Haven't you seen that movie, "Singles"? Even Tom Skeritt knows that people love and need their cars.”

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5. Sean said... on Nov 30, 2009 at 11:05AM

“I drive, bike and walk around this city and it's clear to me that the most lucid group out of the there are on bikes. There's a lot more personal responsibility in riding a bike on city streets and that's the proper way to frame this whole debate.

There's no need to be flippant with "what roads are for.." and all that. It diminishes the conversation into something tired, small and unhelpful.

Most people walk the streets without a clue: crossing against traffic, shopping vs. where they are going, etc. They annoy me when I'm walking behind or around them, biking across the street or driving.

Center City drivers tend to do a bit better with sharing the road, but I've mostly seen of out-of-towners / suburbanites drive around with a sense of entitlement and lack of awareness. Put down the cellphone, adjust your mirrors, brake early and get on your way.

Are there some irresponsible bikers in the bunch? Sure. % to the population? Pedestrians and vehicle owners have something to strive to.”

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6. Jill Minick said... on Nov 30, 2009 at 11:14AM

“We have 2 lobbies, the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia at www.bicyclecoalition.org and PA Walks and Bikes, our new statwide organization at
http://www.livablestreets.com/projects/pabikewalk/join-or-donate.

Why not join one or both of these to help our efforts to effect positive change for bicyclists


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7. Matt said... on Nov 30, 2009 at 11:24AM

“why is everyone focused on bikes running stop signs? no one seems to care when a car does it.

i'm all for cracking down on dangerous behavior on the streets, no matter what mode of transportation you're using. we have laws for this. let's concentrate on preventing people from being killed. period.”

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8. A daily employee said... on Nov 30, 2009 at 11:26AM

“Well, I'd say the majority of them are middle-aged, live outside the city and commute via car, although Polaneczky lives in Fairmount. There's a large parking lot and a small, usually empty bike rack.

I think you're putting out a sinister "omg secret alliance with the city!" conspiracy theory motive here when the reason is way, way more boring. People will check pages they've commented on over and over and over to see whether the person they've been arguing with has responded.

Since pageviews (while not quite translating into lots of money or being well understood) are one of the only measures of success we have left, the balance is slightly tipped toward writing pieces that will get internet people passionately arguing, and because the layoffs of the last several years were based on seniority, most of the staff tends to be older and more likely to take the car side of the argument.

But please, you sound like you're using kind of the same tactics.”

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9. A daily employee said... on Nov 30, 2009 at 11:28AM

“Well, I'd say the majority of them are middle-aged, live outside the city and commute via car, although Polaneczky lives in Fairmount. There's a large parking lot and a small, usually empty bike rack.

I think you're putting out a sinister "omg secret alliance with the city!" conspiracy theory motive here when the reason is way, way more boring. People will check pages they've commented on over and over and over to see whether the person they've been arguing with has responded.

Since pageviews (while not quite translating into lots of money or being well understood) are one of the only measures of success we have left, the balance is slightly tipped toward writing pieces that will get internet people passionately arguing, and because the layoffs of the last several years were based on seniority, most of the staff tends to be older and more likely to take the car side of the argument.

But please, you sound like you're using kind of the same tactics.”

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10. A daily employee said... on Nov 30, 2009 at 11:29AM

“I will append that I am on Team Bike.”

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11. a daily employee said... on Nov 30, 2009 at 11:31AM

“And that I suck at commenting, apparently.”

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12. brendancalling said... on Nov 30, 2009 at 12:00PM

“apparently i suck at commenting too.
Anyway, to repeat what i just wrote and had wiped out when I typed my address incorrectly (why does that happen anyway?), I don't think there's a secret alliance with the city or any kind of conspiracy: I DO however notice that the DN and the Inky both have a pattern of playing pig pile and trying to boil any issue down to black and white, instead of clarifying and spreading information.

and yeah, sometimes that DOES work hand in glove with the city. please visit the other brendancalling later today for some complementary observations (a few didn't make it into the final edit here due to space).”

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13. Stuart said... on Nov 30, 2009 at 12:03PM

“"Danya, there is no chance, not one, that public transportation would be able to fulfill the needs of a major city, let alone Philadelphia."
*****

That's explains why major cities didn't exist until the invention of the car.”

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14. Mutual rights and responsibilities said... on Nov 30, 2009 at 12:14PM

“Brendan, I have to concur with a daily employee's comment that you're simply reversing the tactics of the PNI op-ed writers. If cars, bikes and pedestrians are going to share the road successfully, then they're all going to have to respect the rules that are meant to achieve that goal. Seattle is the one city I've seen where this is done successfully, but they appear to have a consistent practice of enforcement for rules governing motor vehicles, bicycle traffic and pedestrian movement. There, pedestrians have the right of way, but only at crosswalks -- rules agains jaywalking are enforced. Bikes and motor vehicles are subject to overlapping rules governing traffic. The debate in Philadelphia has deteriorated into a blame game about who is more at fault. Consistent enforcement and other means of generating public awareness could engender broader recognition and respect for everyone's rights and responsibilities governing the use of Philadelphia's streets.”

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15. brendancalling said... on Nov 30, 2009 at 01:56PM

“@mutualrights etc:

I'm not reversing those tactics at all. See my place for explanation.
"The debate in Philadelphia has deteriorated into a blame game about who is more at fault."

yes, that is true: BECAUSE OF THE WAY PHILADELPHIA MEDIA HAS TREATED THE ISSUE.

it's not a conspiracy: it's more lazy reporting, a failure to question one's own presumptions, and a tradition of pigpiling.

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16. Jim C said... on Nov 30, 2009 at 01:58PM

“Tensions between drivers and cyclists are going to get worse before they get better. At a time when scientists and conscientious citizens are pushing for a healthier planet, we are gonna have more and more cyclists on the roads. Drivers currently have a sense of entitlement that is fueled by the idea that the high price to drive - insurance, gas, and property tax - guarantees them unfettered mobility. Whenever you have a large number of people living together, you need to factor in some time for delays. Ultimately, this whole argument boils down to one side feeling like they are being 'held up by dangerous road obstacles (a.k.a.: cyclists)' and the other side 'threatened by large instruments of death and destruction with a chip on their shoulder.' We had better learn to co-exist. Cars, as we know them now, will eventually be obsolete. Hopefully, we can create an alternative that leads to a healthier, happier society with peaceful neighbors - let's start working on that now!”

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17. Carsick said... on Nov 30, 2009 at 02:56PM

“I was hit by a car while biking in a bus/bike lane in Center City. The driver was an enraged and psycho Center City resident whose passenger admitted to the police (after I chased down a cop and told them the license number of the car that hit me and drove away) that the driver had hit me intentionally. Guess what happened to him? A $50 fine for driving in the bike lane. We definitely need some reform in this city, and it should apply to the 12 ton steel machines before it applies to bikes!
PS- I was hit 2 years ago and I still have the major back issues that resulted from that "accident."”

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18. Anon E. Mouse said... on Nov 30, 2009 at 03:21PM

“"Tensions between drivers and cyclists are going to get worse before they get better."

Jim C, this is already happening. Stu and Ronnie are fanning the flames. My commute home (via bike) has gotten noticeably scarier in the past few weeks. I've been yelled at and threatened (for biking legally in a bike lane, with lights, stopping at stop lights) and my girlfriend got tailed for blocks by some psycho screaming at her to "get on the sidewalk." She had to run into a friend's house to get away from him. I'm just not convinced that normal, decent drivers understand what the aggressive, psychotic drivers are like from a cyclist's perspective. When if you're in a car you have *some* protection. On a bike, you're at that psycho's mercy.”

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19. silverbullet said... on Nov 30, 2009 at 03:53PM

“there are a lot of stupid, angry drivers out there. cyclists need to be prepared for the reality of riding in a congested urban setting.

if you pay attention and have quick reflexes you will be fine 99% of the time. Ignoring some asshole from jersey who yells at you out his window helps to keep the peace.

But seriously - there are drunks out there on weekend nights (usually not residents of philadelphia) that will do anything to start a fight ....

Any driver attempting to knock someone off a bike with their car, run them off the road, or actually injure rather than just threaten a cyclist should expect nothing less than a U-lock through their windshield.

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20. Philadelphia Bicycle Insurrection said... on Nov 30, 2009 at 04:40PM

“Carsick - please email your story to the Philadelphia Bicycle Insurrection at bikeinsurrection@gmail.com - disgustingly, your story is typical and we're collecting stories to use as ammo in our fight to 1) Keep from getting killed 2) Torpedo the Dicicco/Kenney bills - BICYCLE USERS ARE THE MOST AT-RISK AND ABUSED CLASS IN THE PHILADELPHIA TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM”

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21. meidle said... on Nov 30, 2009 at 04:44PM

“It's a shame that Idaho is more progressive than "liberal" Philadelphia:
http://bicycling.com/blogs/roadrights/2009/07/28/a-stop-sign-solution/

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22. Philadelphia Bicycle Insurrection said... on Nov 30, 2009 at 04:45PM

“Philadelphia Bicycle Insurrection

bikeinsurrection.org
facebook.com/bikeinsurrection
twitter.com/bikeinsurrection
bikeinsurrection@gmail.com”

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23. J@sonHellion said... on Nov 30, 2009 at 06:21PM

“"Right... now, just answer me one question; how does that stop the problem of bikes running stop signs?"

i dont think stop signs and traffic lights were even necessary before automobiles... i cant even count how many times ive almost been killed by assholes who simply remove their foot from the accelerator and cruise through them...

on another note, my partner was recently almost hit by a car while riding in the bike/bus lane on walnut... she yelled at the driver who followed my partner beeping and tailing and was then attacked by the motorists passenger who struck her repeatedly in the shoulder and back of the head with her fist at walnut and rittenhouse... when she yelled out for help to the bike messengers hanging out at the entrance to the square they laughed at her with one of them yelling "shut the fuck up bitch"...bike jocks are still jocks...

until next time, my u-lock and pepper spray remain my best friends...”

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24. Matt said... on Nov 30, 2009 at 06:40PM

“That was the most intelligent article I've read about bicycles in Philadelphia. Great job Brendan!

Mr. DiCicco and Bykofsky, grab your bikes and ride with me for a day. Are you up for it?”

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25. Whit said... on Nov 30, 2009 at 07:46PM

“Good article. It's insane for those people to create such a fuss when enforcement will fix a lot of it. And for people to be scared of bikes is silly when we constantly get threatened by cars.
Last week, a car (while riding in the bike lane I signaled and merged to pass another illegally parked car, the driver behind me who was nowhere close to me when i did this) rolled down his window and yelled something along the lines of "get off the road unless you have a #*^*%^$ death wish."
But these people think I'm the big scary deadly problem with my fixed-gear bike that I apparently only own to look cool, not the guy driving the 2 ton pickup truck honking and driving inches from me just hoping he'll hit me.

AND there are a lot of cities where cars aren't driven in the certain areas. So it can and does work. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_carfree_places”

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26. Anonymous said... on Nov 30, 2009 at 07:50PM

“Walnut doesn't have a bike/bus lane. Chestnut does.”

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27. Mark said... on Nov 30, 2009 at 08:03PM

“Ronnie's husband and daughter have been die-hard bicycle commuters for years.”

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28. 1919 said... on Nov 30, 2009 at 08:14PM

“I can't find the person who made the comment before, but I'd just like to say that I also don't understand the preoccupation with bikes running red lights. Does anyone else think it strange that bikes and cars would be regulated the same way? Is there a good reason based on the physics of the 2 "vehicles" for making them abide by the same traffic regulations? As a biker and a driver, I am intimately aware of how differently these two machines function. I would never feel safe driving a car the way I ride a bike and vice versa. Can ANYBODY explain why it is so terrible for a person on a bike to slow down enough to either continue through an intersect or stop before it as the situation warrants? I haven't come up with a good reason (except perhaps for enforcement reasons, but to my mind that simply means rethinking regulations)”

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29. Anonymous said... on Nov 30, 2009 at 08:28PM

“Had I not turned my head to the right after alighting from a Septa bus, I would have not noticed a bicycle coming straight for me. The bicyclist did not bother to realize that the bus stopped to discharge passengers. If not knocked to the ground and suffered brain damage and possible death (as someone who recently was killed by a hit and run bicyclist [according to reward posters put up by a law firm whose paralegal was killed that way]) I would have been maimed for life. We do need laws to protect us against reckless bicylclist.”

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30. betty said... on Dec 1, 2009 at 07:15AM

“The problem is that many bikers don't even slow down or stop and then proceed at a light or stop sign. The other day I was going on a green light and a biker just continued through his red light, giving me the finger as he passed because I almost hit him. He was at fault, but yet he flipped me off. I think the percentage of bikers who don't follow the rules are far higher then some of you believe here. Im all for biking in the city and bike lanes, but there should be some regulations on how people conduct themselves on a bike.”

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31. Anonymous said... on Dec 1, 2009 at 08:29AM

“betty - That is definitely bad behavior. But to extrapolate from one incident to your statement that there are far more people who don't follow the rules than people think is questionable. What is that statement based on? Also, it sounds like you made it out of the incident just fine. I don't think this would be the case if it was a car that ran that red light.”

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32. nick said... on Dec 1, 2009 at 11:22AM

“To Anonymous Nov 30 at 8:28PM: I'm curious, did you get off at 5th and South a little after 5pm on a weeknight?”

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33. smoking tire said... on Dec 1, 2009 at 03:05PM

“So, all this attention is an indication of the growing influence of the bike culture in this city. Could all this coverage have happened 10 years ago? This is probably the next progression of the cycling culture and that is recognition by the mainstream (yelling, cursing, editorials). Maybe someone will be able to squeeze some good out of all this coverage. More people riding and knowing how to better behave. Remember most of us get through the day ok, this animosity is just an awful perception based on very few reported incidents. We've all been flipped off and yelled at as drivers, walkers and bikers. We all need a little more tolerance and education to understand our roles a little better. Maybe a word or two from some leaders to calm the rhetoric can help.”

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34. Beth Treisner said... on Dec 1, 2009 at 04:54PM

“Great article, Brendan. I find it funny that Philly in the past has made a big deal out of encouraging biking, but for someone like me, who has a cruiser and rarely rides more than maybe 20 blocks at a time (if that!), rides fairly slowly, and is terrified of getting hurt or hurting anyone else, this proposed legislation just makes me want to put my bike into retirement. It's ridiculous thinking of all the fines I could rack up just riding my cute pink cruiser in the old city area. Is it so wrong that sometimes I feel safer riding carefully on the sidewalk for a block instead of over cobblestones? Is it so wrong that I ride a cruiser which does not have conventional brakes? Is it so wrong that occasionally I feel riding half a block in the wrong direction on the virtually empty sidewalk or on the shoulder is safer than riding in the right direction down a busy street with everyone honking and yelling at me?”

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35. Beth Treisner said... on Dec 1, 2009 at 05:06PM

“It really has been made out to be a very black and white issue when in fact it isn't at all. Also, although some people may hate me for saying this - what is so terrible about a biker treating a red light more like a stop sign? If no one is coming in either direction, after I stop and look both ways, I don't feel guilty at all about going through the empty intersection on my bike. And another thing - don't the Philly police have better things to worry about than ticketing someone for doing some of things I've just mentioned? Seriously.”

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36. J@sonHellion said... on Dec 1, 2009 at 06:25PM

““Walnut doesn't have a bike/bus lane. Chestnut does.”

uhh they both do...”

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37. Ripley said... on Dec 1, 2009 at 08:27PM

“Yep. 300 murders in the last year in Philadelphia. I'm glad we prioritize the right things.”

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38. t.a. barnhart said... on Dec 2, 2009 at 03:18AM

“Brendan, i'm a full-time bicyclist in Portland & a bike advocate; i can't think of the last time i heard of any fatalities caused by a bike here. can you fill me in what the circumstances there were? email would be fine (i'm likely to forget i visited this page....) i'd like to know that if it was something preventable, we're aware of such circumstances here, that we could learn from what has happened there.

and good luck in holding the line for the rights everyone not wanting to give in the car culture - not just bikes, but pedestrians, mass transit, skaters of all kinds, pogo sticks, unicycles....”

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39. Betty said... on Dec 2, 2009 at 04:18AM

“response @ Anonymous on Dec 1, 2009 at 08:29AM
I am not extrapolating due to that one incident. I have had many instances where a biker has almost ended up on my windshield due to an indifference to the bike laws. I did make it out of the incident just fine, but what if I had hit the biker? Who would be at fault? What if I had killed the biker? I am not willing to live with that consequence because some bikers don't want to follow laws. Im not sure why there is such a taboo about following some bike laws such as stopping at stop signs and stopping at red lights. I think philly turning into a biking city is terrific, but not at the expense of safety. However, I do believe the city may be using the bike citations as a way to generate more money from the citizens of philly. Shame on them for that.”

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40. Betty said... on Dec 2, 2009 at 04:18AM

“response @ Anonymous on Dec 1, 2009 at 08:29AM
I am not extrapolating due to that one incident. I have had many instances where a biker has almost ended up on my windshield due to an indifference to the bike laws. I did make it out of the incident just fine, but what if I had hit the biker? Who would be at fault? What if I had killed the biker? I am not willing to live with that consequence because some bikers don't want to follow laws. Im not sure why there is such a taboo about following some bike laws such as stopping at stop signs and stopping at red lights. I think philly turning into a biking city is terrific, but not at the expense of safety. However, I do believe the city may be using the bike citations as a way to generate more money from the citizens of philly. Shame on them for that.”

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41. Opus the Poet said... on Dec 2, 2009 at 12:00PM

“OK I live in TX in a city that has never seen bike lanes or any other kind of bicycle infrastructure, and I get the same treatment from drivers about getting on the sidewalk, do I have a death wish, being physically assaulted either with the vehicle or by a passenger in the vehicle. I have lost count of the number of times I have been "buzzed" or forced off the road, and in at least one instance someone tried to kill me because I was riding a bicycle on the street (what else can you say about someone that swears at you from the other side of the street going the opposite direction, who hangs a u-turn and then hits you from behind at 65 MPH in a 45 zone at night in the rain?) It isn't just Philly, the whole damn country has gone insane. Good night and good luck.”

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42. Chris said... on Dec 2, 2009 at 12:31PM

“In Center City and University City, which are Business Districts, it has always been illegal to ride on the sidewalk, even the Bike Coalition states that bikes are to be walked on sidewalks. We pedestrians cannot jaywalk either, and if we do, then ticket us or we deserve to be hit by a bike or a car. So that being said, what is the rationale again for sidewalk riding?
And why can't the police at least get the idiot bicyclists who still persist in riding north up the 12th street sidewalk from Market to Race, especially in front of the Reading Terminal Market and the Convention Center? I guess the bikers think that because they are going against the flow of traffic they can hop on the sidewalk and put pedestrians at risk. Go to 11th street! Blowing though redlights and wrong-way riding are also a risk to pedestrians, but the reality is those two things will result in the car or truck being the winner, so those bikers will end up being culled, stupid-is-as-stupid-does.”

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43. Paul in England said... on Dec 3, 2009 at 07:12AM

“Much of the media here in the U.K. also seem to be indulging in an awful lot of "cyclist bashing" at the moment too. A while ago a former Member of Parliament (a certain Mr.Paris), wrote in The Times newspaper, following a disagreement with a cyclist, that it was time to start putting wires across the road in order to garrote anyone riding a bike. A little extreme one would have thought.

Why this international anti-cyclist feeling ?”

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44. brendancalling said... on Dec 3, 2009 at 09:25AM

“@42, chris: "So that being said, what is the rationale again for sidewalk riding? "

I won't defend people who ride on the sidewalks persistently, but when the bike lane is sandwiched between cars that open their doors into the lane, is used as a substitute passing lane by cars, and is used as a safe space for jaywalkign pedestrians, I can safely state that the rationale for occasionally hopping the curb onto the sidewalk is to avoid collisions with motorists and pedestrians behaving badly.”

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45. Anonymous said... on Dec 3, 2009 at 10:07AM

“this is a good article. i'm sick of hearing ignorant people yelling about this stuff when they haven't driven AND cycled AND walked around this city. how is your opinion worth publishing on the internet if you've only been on one side?”

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46. Anonymous said... on Dec 3, 2009 at 10:11AM

“motorists and cops have been telling bikers for years that they don't belong in the road and should be on the sidewalk. if bikes don't belong in the road OR on sidewalk where does that leave them? maybe they should just pull an E.T. and fly overheard?”

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47. CJ said... on Dec 3, 2009 at 11:58AM

“Stuart said...
"That's explains why major cities didn't exist until the invention of the car.”

I do hope you realize that major cities have been around for a few millennia, not just since detroit began spewing out cars. I'm fairly sure they weren't driving around in ancient Egypt”

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48. john said... on Dec 3, 2009 at 12:24PM

“i can't believe that this issue has become what it has. people getting this hostile over how someone gets somewhere? from a reasonable point of view, it really seems as if the WHOLE FUCKING CITY HAS LOST IT'S MIND. people need to have a little patience when they're in or on their vehicles, & realize that people are just trying to get somewhere safely.

if you have never ridden a bike in the city, you can't understand how dangerous someone in a car not paying attention is. a normal ride from home to work can become life threatening in less than a second because someone didn't use a turn signal, or didn't check their mirror before opening their door.

that said, i also drive, and i understand how it can seem that cyclists have elitist attitudes, and i understand how frustrating it is when you're behind someone on a bike. however, it is RIDICULOUS to think that a person on a bike is as dangerous to those around them as one in an automobile, or should be subject to equal laws.”

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49. john said... on Dec 3, 2009 at 12:50PM

“also, if there is a facebook group called "im a philadelphia cyclist and i've been hit by a car before" that was created just a few days ago and is up to nearly 450 members. most people share their stories, and an unsettling theme is that when struck, police show up late or never, and blatant attacks on cyclists such as intentionally hitting them with their vehicles, which should be assault, end up as minimal fines.

now, why on earth would cyclists give a shit about traffic laws, new and old, in a system where they are not protected by them?”

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50. brendancalling said... on Dec 3, 2009 at 05:07PM

“@38. t.a. barnhart: i don't have access to your email, but here's the scoop. two assholes on bikes were invovled in collisions this year, one a hit and run. That was enough for our local council members to decide there was a crisis. of course, when cars killed more than 90 people in 2008 (a 5 year low) these defenders of public safety said and did nothing at all.

and now these geniuses in council, and their enablers at the DN and the Inky, want to levy fines on bikes that are triple those levied on reckless motorists. It's such a transparent play for revenue only an idiot (or a Philly.com columnist, but i repeat myself) could miss it.”

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51. compton said... on Dec 4, 2009 at 05:10AM

“In the UK, cyclists used to be viewed as 2nd-class citizens by city planners and other road users. It was a left-over of the class system - if you're on a bike you're a peasant and should never obstruct the important people in cars.

I'm surprised to see this attitude exists in the US, supposedly classless as it is!

What is obvious from any impartial investigation is that cyclists do not pose a significant risk of accidental death to other road users.

Statistics a year or two back gave a figure of around 12 deaths by cyclists over a five year period, in the whole of the UK.

If someone gets run over and killed by a car, that's not news, it's normal. If they get killed by a cyclist, that is news exactly because it happens so rarely.

The 12 deaths in 5 years figure compares favourably with other causes of accidental deaths such as ballpoint pens. I believe around 2 people per year are killed in the UK from accidents directly attributed to ballpoint pens.”

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52. Robert Zimmerman said... on Dec 4, 2009 at 12:45PM

“So where is all of the "FUCK YOU'S" and "EAT SHT'S" that Brendan Skwire uses when he writes elswhere??

We've been duped. This is not Mr. Skwire”

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53. Anonymous said... on Dec 4, 2009 at 02:26PM

“Actually "A Driver", streets were originally paved for bicyclists - in the early 1900's cars were very few and far between and the large amount of bicyclists lobbied and paid for road paving - and then automobiles came along in the millions and pushed the most efficient way of moving people ever invented to the sidelines. And they've been doing it ever since.
The two deaths caused by careless bicycling are a horrible anomoly - but people are killed daily by car drivers, and it's ignored.”

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54. Heather said... on Dec 9, 2009 at 04:16PM

“It's everyones job to keep themselves and everyone around them safe. I am a driver and a cyclist and have dealt with ignorance in both. Has anyone mentioned ticketing pedistrians for jay walking? I have visited and lived in city where that is common and affective. I have has people walk out in front of me from in between cars where they aren't visible unrril te are in the middle of the street both in my car and on my bike. I had a accident with a women on bike bike who walked out from behind a huge SUV right in front of me on my bike and even with my brakes i couldn't stop in time not to hit her. And if I would of really hurt her it would of been my fault cause she was a airhead not looking and just wondering out into the street. I have been hit my cars on my bike 4 times in the last 2 years and only once has the driver gotten any kind of ticket or fine. I just would really like to see if they make laws for cyclist they make one for everyone to keep us all safe.”

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55. rider/driver said... on Dec 11, 2009 at 11:37PM

“In case drivers wonder why cyclists roll stop signs, it's "momentum". It takes a lot more effort to accelerate so we slow and make sure we don't impede the cars progress and continue thru keeping as much momentum as possible. That's why we cut behind you or do other unusual things. If you think about it we are just trying to conserve out momentum without slowing you.
I read a lot of blogs on this subject and besides the few adolescents, this was one of the best.”

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56. Anonymous said... on Dec 21, 2009 at 11:50AM

“@ comment 51

i suppose we should regulate and fine the misuse of ballpoint pens according to the dickheads who run philadelphia”

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