Councilmen want changes to bikes

PHILADELPHIA - November 19, 2009

It's estimated 11,000 people a day now use a bike to commute in Philadelphia.

"I've been using it since the summer. I think it's a lot easier to get around," cyclist Dan Mulligan said.

But as numbers grow so have complaints, pedestrians fear being hit by cyclists who zip along sidewalks which is illegal; motorists fume some riders ignore red lights, which is also illegal.

"They have kind of a sense of entitlement better where they think they're better than anyone else because they're not using a car," pedestrian John Curto said.

Two pedestrians were killed last month after being struck by cyclists . At city council today, bills were introduced to increase fines and force all bike owners to license their wheels with the city.

One bill would require anyone over the age of 12 to register their bicycle at a cost of $20. Another bill would hike the fine for riding on a sidewalk from $10 to $300.

The bills' sponsors concede the vast majority of cyclists are law abiding, their efforts are targeted at those who are not.

"There's a small group of people who feel that they have a right to jump curbs, fly down the sidewalk," city councilman Jim Kenney said.

"I'm not anti-bike. I just think there needs to be some organization, some reasonable way of all of us to coexist," city councilman Frank DiCicco said.

The Bicycle Coalition is against the new bills, arguing if you want to fix things enforce existing laws.

"We do share the concern that the streets are chaotic, but the reason there are problems on the street is because enforcement has not been a priority,' Sarah Clark Stuart of the Bicycle Coalition of Great Philadelphia said.

With that in mind, the coalition is joining the police department Friday in publicly announcing a stepped up campaign of bicycle enforcement.

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