License Plates on Bikes? Advocacy Group Says No Way

Proposed biking regulations have biking group steamed

The battle for Center City streets went to Philadelphia City Council Thursday as two bills that would put new regulations on bikers were considered to the dismay of some.

There is a dangerous situation daily on Center City Streets as pedestrians, cyclists and drivers jockey for space. That constant battle came to a front recently after the death of two pedestrians in separate hit-an-run biking accidents.

Some bad bikers have spoiled good biking for everyone it seems and action could happen. Council could institute plans calling for higher fines for dangerous bikers and a licensing system to track city bikes.

The Bicycle Coalition of Philadelphia blasted back against the proposals.

"This is the wrong approach," said Sarah Clark Stuart, Campaign Director. "Bicyclists shouldn't be singled out when the problem is all road users -- motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians -- bending the law to suit their own needs, with little if any consequences. The absence of adequate enforcement has led some road users to develop bad habits that endanger themselves and others."

Councilman Frank DiCicco’s plan called for licensing of all bikes operated by someone 12 and up. The hope was that requiring registration would allow pedestrians, police, etc. be able to identify any problem riders and for police to enforce any violations, said DiCicco spokesman Brian Abernathy.

Councilman Jim Kenney’s plan called for a hike in the fine for riding on the sidewalk going from $10 to $300 KYW, 1060 reported Wednesday.

The Bike Coalition doesn’t see the need for new rules but rather for better enforcement of the rules already in place.

"These bills won't make Philadelphia's streets safer," said Advocacy Director John Boyle. "The problem is not that penalties are too low, the problem is that tickets are rarely given out. It is pointless to increase penalties as proposed by Councilman Kenney when the current penalty system has existed only on paper."

DiCicco’s licensing proposal would never work and similar plans were already repealed in other major cities and states, Boyle added.

"Bicycle license plates are impractical and unworkable. Let's learn from other cities' experiences and not waste time and resources on an ineffective program," said Boyle.

It seems that everyone agrees streets should be safer but that not everyone can agree on how to make that happen.

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