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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.

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