UPDATE: Mandatory Philadelphia Bike Registration Next Steps

The Bicycle Coalition obtained copies of the bills from Council staff today. Click to download DiCicco’s registration bill and DiCicco’s comments and Councilman Kenney’s increased penalties bill and no brake confiscation bill.

You can write and call Councilman Kenney (215) 686-3450, (215) 686-3451 and Councilman DiCicco (215) 686-3458, (215) 686-3459 directly and express your viewpoint about these bills. As stated in our press release, the Bicycle Coalition believes that to achieve better compliance with traffic laws equitable and consistent education and enforcement of current laws must be implemented.

Here is a press release from the BCGP, elaborating its position on the proposals:

PROPOSED BICYCLE REGULATIONS WILL NOT SOLVE PHILADELPHIA’S TRAFFIC SAFETY PROBLEMS

November 19, 2009. Philadelphia, PA. The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia opposes bills that are being introduced today by Councilman Frank DiCicco and James Kenney to increase penalties and require license plates on bicycles.

“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.”

“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,” he added. Other cities, including Los Angeles, Houston, Washington DC, Detroit, Albuquerque, and the states of Minnesota and Massachusetts have all repealed laws similar to Councilman DiCicco’s proposal. Los Angeles’ Police Department Chief directly recommended to LA’s City Council that their program be discontinued. Said Boyle, “Bicycle license plates are impractical and unworkable. Let’s learn from other cities’ experiences and not waste time and resources on an ineffective program.”

“Enforcement can work and up to now, traffic enforcement hasn’t been a priority,” said Breen Goodwin, Education Director. “To achieve better compliance with traffic laws, the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia believes that equitable and consistent education and enforcement of current laws on all road users must be implemented. Until that happens, enacting higher penalties or registration programs is ineffective and counterproductive.”

Like many others in Philadelphia, the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia recognizes that the city’s streets are chaotic. In the absence of adequate enforcement, all road users – motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians – bend the law to suit their own needs, with little if any consequences. This situation has led some road users to develop bad habits that endanger themselves and others.

Philadelphia’s streets need to be made safer for everyone. The first step toward safer streets is equitable and consistent enforcement of traffic laws as they apply to all road users. Up to now, traffic enforcement has not been a priority. The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia urges City Council and the Nutter Administration to implement immediately an equitable and consistent traffic education and enforcement program to enforce the laws that are currently on the books before City Council raises penalties, requires mandatory registration, and puts other restrictions in place. Safety education coupled with enforcement, applied equitably to all road users, is the first step to improve safety for all.

The Philadelphia Police Department appears to be ready to engage in enforcement in tandem with the Bicycle Coalition’s Bicycle Ambassadors education program. The Bicycle Coalition urges City Council to help develop a strategy for an equitable and consistent traffic enforcement and education campaign applicable to all road users. The Bicycle Coalition looks forward to working with city officials to help calm the streets.

With regards to laws requiring registration and licensing of bicycles, the Bicycle Coalition does not support a mandatory program. Among other issues, we are concerned about the potential for a registration program to discourage riders, impose financial disincentives, and expose the City to numerous legal issues. Peer cities and states have passed and then repealed registration and licensing programs. We recommend a thorough investigation of registration and licensing programs in other cities to determine whether such programs would help or hinder efforts to achieve peace on Philadelphia’s streets.