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  • My Rebuttal to Philly Mag’s “Cyclists Get What’s Coming to ‘Em’ Post

    Philly Mag published a post yesterday by Carrie Denny titled “Philadelphia Cyclists Finally Get What’s Coming to ‘Em..”

    *hand to forehead.*

    As Ms. Denny begins, “The Boyfriend says that bikers throughout the city of Philadelphia know well the hum of my 2000 Land Rover Discovery. You know what I say? I wish they did. Then maybe they’d get the hell out of the way.”

    Get the hell out of the way??  Oh, Carrie, it’s been brought-en.

    Throughout the article, Ms. Denny complains about how bikers, the “fifth-grade class clown”, disregard traffic laws while “haphazardly around my moving vehicle” aka the “hum of my 2000 Land Rover Discovery”.

    Like several of the commenters, I’d sincerely challenge Ms. Denny to try biking in Philly, the #1 city for bike commuting, for a few weeks.  Being on a 30-pound bicycle with a helmet as your entire body’s protection vs. a 3,000 pound, well-equipped, air-bagged car is not a match by any means.  This difference in size and protection should regard for different rules. Each year, more than 500,000 people in the US are treated in emergency departments, and more than 700 people die as a result of bicycle-related injuries. Not surprisingly, 70% occur in urban areas. Expecting bicycles to follow the same rules as cars is simply absurd.  Idaho even recognized this difference 29 years ago when they implemented a “Stop-as-yield” statute, allowing cyclists to “slow to a reasonable speed”. After yielding to a vehicle with the right of way, cyclists may proceed. And guess what? 29 years later, there have been 0 increases in cycling accidents in Idaho.

    Yes, bikers don’t always ‘follow” traffic laws. Personally, I bike and run red lights or stop signs after slowing to make sure the road is clear. Not because I have an “assertion that they I could can go where I they wanted and do what I they pleased upon their my two special wheels”, but because if I could easily be killed by cars who are texting, talking on cell phones, speeding and frankly not giving a damn whether I’m on the road or not.

    Yes, there are assholes that bike who weave in and out of cars, creating dangerous situations. There are assholes who drive – who text, talk on the phone, fidget with their GPS or radio, or simply disregard anyone else on the road – since distracted driving is the #1 killer of teens and over 1 million text/talk while driving. There are also pedestrians who disregard cars and bikes, bringing false media stories that they would be ticketed for texting and walking. But generalizing “bikers” as a whole by a few bad instances is disregarding every other respectful biker. Do you also keep a running tally of cars who almost hit, honk, and scream profanities to your Land Rover?

    Upset that bikers are in your driving lane?  I’d like to point out the number of cars parked in the Spruce Bike lane on a Sunday afternoon, forcing bikers in the car lane. Not just one, but an entire block parked next to a “No Parking Anytime” sign. (I still don’t have an explanation. Readers?) Don’t believe me? Just check MyBikeLane Philadelphia for several visuals.

    However, I am a Philadelphian who rides planes, trains, automobiles, SEPTA… plus bikes, drives and walks.  I understand both sides. It’s not comforting when anyone doesn’t use transit wisely, regardless of what mode they’re taking.

    Ms. Denny, Philadelphia’s ‘Give Respect-Get Respect’ campaign is an educational initiative for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians to be more aware and mindful of each other on Philadelphia’s roads. This grant funded traffic safety enforcement and educational program targets all users of our roads.  It’s not targeted specifically for bikers to give respect. Not specifically to walkers. And certainly not targeted specifically to drivers, either.  It’s to assist all three – bikers, pedestrians AND vehicles to work together for a better solution. And by stating that you hope the bikers will “get the hell out of the way”, you’re implying that you believe your heavily-polluting SUV is superior, ahead of the initiative.

    In conclusion, I hope your 2000 Land Rover 12-miles-per-gallon-fuel-efficient Discovery will ‘give respect” to  bikes to “get respect” in return.

    Julie Hancher

    About Julie Hancher

    Julie Hancher is Editor-in-Chief of Green Philly, sharing her expertise of all things sustainable in the city of brotherly love. She enjoys long walks in the park with local beer and greening her travels, cooking & cat, Sir Floofus Drake.

    Your thoughts . . .

    • Jason

      Great article! Couldn’t have said it better myself!

    • Sarah

      I too agree that all parties involved aren’t following the rules. I primarily walk and take SEPTA. I do not bike, I do not drive. I am constantly faced with both bikers and drivers disobeying rules of the road and not giving a sh*t about pedestrians. (There’s a cross walk for a reason, people, stop creeping into it at a red light! And to the biker that made me stop in my path on the SIDEWALK the other day as you were riding directly into my path, screw you! I am not a mind reader and stop riding on the sidewalk!)

      I think it all comes down to social responsibility, something that this city lacks. It seems like everyone is in it for themselves, not caring about their fellow human beings. I hope that Philly can one day get to a place where people stop and think before taking selfish actions.

    • Erin W

      The reason the bike lane on Spruce is parked over on Sunday is 10th Presbyterian Church. The city allows church attendees to ignore all no parking signs on Spruce from 16th to 19th as long as they have a little ‘attending chuch’ sign on the dash. Kinda ruins the point of a bike lane, but there’s the problem.


    • Great post Julie!! All I do is yell at the people parked in the bike lanes!!

    • Dan

      30 pound bike, what!?!?!?

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    • Jess

      Thanks for this awesome reply. Did Carrie every make any kind of response to all the comments and rebuttals?

    • Frank

      This isn’t much of a rebuttal. Yes, the Give-Respect, Get-Respect campaign is targeted at motorists, pedestrians and bikers. However, you ignored the part of story reporting that a large majority of the citations have been for bicyclists not following traffic laws. I think it’s a safe generalization that few Philly bikers follow traffic laws (like stopping at red lights and stop signs, for example). Also, I know first hand that when bikers and pedestrians must share the “road” (like on the Schuylkill river trail near the Art Museum) the bikers are often riding at illegally high speed and creating significant hazards for the walkers and runners.

    • Frank, have you ever ridden a bike in Philadelphia’s bike lanes or streets? It’s more effort than pushing or alleviating a pedal. Biking is a physically demanding activity, and is NOT the same as driving a car. Which is why bikes should NOT have the same rules as a 2 ton vehicle (which I mention in the above rebuttal.) Cars drive dangerously. I was thisclose to being hit by a cab, and he told me to “get off the road”. Yes, there are also bikers who disrespect others on a pedestrian/running path. But the bike-car war won’t improve if people have mentally of “us vs them”. As I bike and drive in Philadelphia, I do understand both sides. If everyone tried being a little kinder (and thought of others first), many accidents (or ‘near’ accidents) could be avoided.

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    • Jess, it’s 2012 and I’m still waiting for Carrie’s response. 😉