Friday, November 20, 2009

License to Ride

Nurse Kelly asked me: “What do you think about having to register your bike in Philly? I can't imagine having to have a license to ride.”

When I was a kid, both in Connecticut and in Haddonfield, it was always “suggested” during Safety Week that we register our bicycles with our local PD. It was free, and the idea was that with our bikes registered, if one was stolen and recovered [somehow] we could prove that it was ours and it would be returned. It was actually kinda cute; we received little metal license plate that we hung from our banana seats, give use an ever more biker-gangish appearance … put some baseball cards in the spokes and vroom-vroom!!! Hide your daughters!!!

Naturally, the first reaction is “Oh, The City wants to make money from the cyclists” Since cyclists don’t use parking facilities or pay gasoline tax, there isn’t much of a revenue stream directly from the riders [paying outrageous taxes on a 6-pack of take-out PBR to the LCB, notwithstanding]

Philly is trying SO HARD to become a major
bike-friendly city. They just opened East-West bike lanes in Center City. This could be ½ a step backwards as [quoted from here]

1) [Licensing] creates yet another barrier to cycling in a system which has been historically built to exclude cyclists, and
2) It is completely unnecessary, due to the fact that cyclists can (and are) routinely pulled over and cited by the police for vehicle code violations already. You don’t need a license to get a ticket for running a stoplight. And you still have to pay the fine regardless of whether you’re on four wheels or two.

Thirdly … do they really expect messengers and messenger poseurs [who are part-time anarchists, anyway] to get in line for their little metal plates?

As for the rules and regulations/fines proposed?

Kenney, meantime, will propose increasing the fines for riding bicycles on the sidewalks. The current fine is $10. Kenney wants it to be $300. He also wants the current $3 fine for wearing headphones while on a bicycle to also increase to $300.

I’m fine with that [pun not intended]. Bikes DON’T belong on sidewalks, unless you’re a 6 year-old and you have training wheels, or you are walking it [into a building or to lock-it up someplace.] Wearing headphones while riding ANYWHERE is stupid, unless you’re out in the Pines all alone on a Saturday morning and you don’t have traffic to be concerned with. When I lived in Philly and rode everywhere I couldn’t walk to, I was always in the street and 100% aware. Much like in my blog post “
Riding with Sharks” cabs, delivery trucks, SEPTA buses, tourists, all pose different threats out there and you have to have your head on a swivel at all times; eyes and ears open. That’s not to say I didn’t grab the back of a SEPTA bus on occasion, to get up Market Street quickly, but … I kinda knew what I was doing. Even at MM, I rode my bike in the street to meet up with The Glo-Pokes, then hopped on the bike path to ride along to the finish line. AND I had my helmet and proper lighting [next year, I’ll have my Team Tania blinkies, too!!!]

If they DO put these fines in place, I’d suggest one for “salmoning” too … that is, riding AGAINST traffic. You asked me about this once or twice [why we run facing traffic, but ride with traffic]; and the bottom line is that bicycles are “vehicles” and are subject to the same rules of the road as cars. The physics involved, though, from the difference between getting rear-ended by a car vs. a head-on collision, don’t really matter. It’s STILL gonna hurt like a b!tch.

Especially, if you've taken you front brake off, just to be all cool and hipster-ish.

These things are cyclical [again, pun not intended]. Every now and then the same thing percolates in NYC, Chicago, DC and so on. It usually goes away on its own. In the meantime, follow the Philly story as it unfolds, here:

Philadelphia Bicycle Insurrection

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