Saturday, May 28, 2011

A call to arms

A call to arms

In 2009 Philadelphia City Councilmen Councilman Frank DiCicco attempted to introduce a bill that would have levied excessive fines and bicycle confiscation, far in excess of what automobile drivers might have to face. In addition requiring everyone owning a bicycle who is over the age of 12 to register their bicycle with the police department at a cost of $20.00 per bicycle. Fortunately nothing came of it.

Now City Councilman at Large Large William K. Greenly has decided to make it next to impossible to create bicycle lanes. By introducing a bill that would require Philadelphia's City council to approve any future bicycle lanes, co-sponsored by Council members Darrell Clarke and Frank DiCicco. It appears that bicyclist and bicycle infrastructure have become the political low hanging fruit of the Philadelphia City Council an easy way to score points with local voters while achieving no benefit. Requiring City Council approval of all new bike lanes is bad policy because City Council approval is not needed for new vehicular travel lanes, crosswalks or bus stops.

Do you really want something that will have long term impact to the city of Philadelphia in the hands of a group of people who are only concerned about the next election so they can keep their jobs instead of qualified traffic engineers. Philadelphia has bad track record with it's elected officials and government agencies. We've seen city council members abuse the DROP program and the Philadelphia Housing Administration and the school system are both under federal investigation for abuse of power and misappropriation of funds. The Philadelphia City Council keeps trying to engage in brinksmanship almost like a game of Russian roulette in The Deer Hunter and intimidate bicyclists throughout Philadelphia.

So what would I do?
While the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia is asking people to e-mail City Council members, what is really needed is a visible public response, one that can not be ignored. I would create a Courteous Mass Ride, a group ride that obeys the traffic laws so the ride becomes a parade instead of peloton. Each rider would bring a letter addressed to Councilmen William Greenlee, Darrell Clarke and Frank DiCicco. it would depart from City Hall the route would pass by Councilman Greenlee's home and then over to the post office at 900 N. 19th St. in Philadelphia where the letters would be mailed. If you take this approach it could take 15 to 30 minutes for the entire mass to pass his house and with advance notice to the media would make a great photo opportunity. Similar rides could also be created for the bills sponsors.

Any volunteers who want to annoy some sacred cows?

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