Friday, March 8, 2013

What happened to the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia?


Over the years the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia has evolved and changed. Gone are the days when it was once an organization that boldly advocated bicycling and the rights for cyclists to ride on the streets of Philadelphia. Once they took on city government and local media, now they surrender giving away more than the end result is worth. What was once an organization that prided itself on building a community within Philadelphia is now more concerned about placating its wealthy suburban and urban donor base.

The early signs of decay occurred when Philadelphia Inquirer opinion writer and professional grumpy old man Stu Bykofsky started writing columns in 2009 about how bike lanes and bikes caused congestion, all cyclists broke the law by either riding on the sidewalk or running red lights. The BCGP attempted to educate Mr. Bykofsky, which he turned into more material for his columns. The slightest hesitation or misstatement was a sign that the BCGP was lying.

At the same time a various members of the Philadelphia City Council attempted to pass bills that were intended to take punitive action against cyclists. Attempts included banning fixed gear bikes, levy $1000.00 fines against the owners, and register bicycles like cars complete with license plates. When all of these failed, the city council upped the ante by creating a bill in 2011 that would allow Philadelphia City Council to make the final decision regarding the installation of any bicycle lane that would remove parking or a lane of travel for cars.

In an effort to hide what the city council was attempting the bill was announced the just before the 2011 Memorial Day weekend and held the vote a few days after the weekend had passed. The BCGP marshaled its resources and prevented this bill from passing. In 2012 the Philadelphia City Council introduced the same bill using the same tactics, this time the bill passed with the blessing of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia. In return the BCGP got some inclusion of pedestrians and cyclists on to the Philadelphia Complete Streets bill and that cars parked in bicycle lanes would be ticketed.

By giving the Philadelphia City Council complete control over the installation of future bicycle lanes they could easily turn Philadelphia into patchwork system of partial bicycle lanes that connect to nowhere. Whether the Philadelphia Police Department and Parking Authority will ticket cars parked in bicycle lanes remains questionable at best.

The BCGP is starting to lose its credibility to speak and act on behalf on the cyclists who live and work within Philadelphia. 

1 comment:

  1. Just like any advocacy group they sometimes don't take positions we agree with. I disagreed with their decision on the bike lanes bill but they have a better read on City Council than we do. All of us individuals and BCGP will continue to fight for better biking conditions in Philadelphia but even when we disagree they are undoubtedly on our side and to infer otherwise is stupid.