Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Who Watches the Watchers?

The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia's Annual Membership meeting happened on Sunday, October 14 and they are still very reticent in revealing any details on the Safe Streets bill they are negotiating with the Philadelphia City Council. Which makes me ask, what are they trying to hide?

I went to the Philadelphia City Council website and found Bill 120532 complete with a PDF file of the 4 page bill. The bill is designed to raise the fine for cyclists running red lights from $3 to $100.00, which is in line with current state mandates Along with dooring, and cars parking in bicycle lanes. It includes some well-intentioned statements asking city agencies to take the needs of pedestrians and bicyclists into consideration when planning city infrastructure. While this is all very well and good, there are no indications as to what, if any, fines will be applied to people who park in bicycle lanes.

The concern is the current state of negotiations and the final bill when it is presented. Based on this statement made by Sarah Clarke Stuart, Campaign Director for the BCGP, made to the Philadelphia Weekly;  “We have been having productive meetings with the administration about [the bill],” We’re still waiting for what they come back with, then we have to meet with Councilman Squilla and we’ll know [what the final version will look like].” The BCGP has absolutely no leverage over the Philadelphia City Council; the bill that gave council members final authority over the installation of bicycle lanes in Philadelphia has been passed. All we can hope for is that they will honor whatever deal they made with the BCGP to get it passed. Worse yet the final results could be so watered down that cyclists will continue to face bicycle lanes used as parking spaces with no repercussions.

At a recent volunteer meeting the BCGP gave an update to its volunteers on the status of the bill, but on its blog they only said “there would be pizza” and how the bill “may have a large impact on bicycling in Philadelphia”. It's time that the BCGP updates all of the cyclists that will be impacted by this bill, not just their urban volunteers and wealthy suburban donors.

The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia is acting on behalf of all of the cyclists in Philadelphia it's time they provide an update before the bill is finalized to make sure this is what everyone finds acceptable. As opposed to what the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia can live with.

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