Dilemma: Bikeheads would have to obey law

 Considering that, statistically, no one commutes to work by bicycle, it’s amazing how much of the government’s time, effort, and finances are directed toward bike lanes. City streets are more likely to be torn up for underused bike lanes than for repair.

An intersection made worse by bike apparatus (Photo: Center City District)

But hark! I can hear the pedalphiles bleating, “Stu says ‘no one’ uses bikes,” they will sputter, while ignoring the qualifications of the sentence that say “statistically” and “commutes to work.”

A minuscule 2.6% of Philadelphians commute to work by bicycle, according to the latest stats I could find on Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia’s website. It was 2.2% in 2009. 

For perspective, 8.6% of Philadelphians walk to work — four times as many as who bike, yet the city is not screaming for better, safer, sidewalks. A pitiful 4.6% of Philadelphians use public transportation, while the rest use private vehicles. We need to boost mass transit useage, which benefits everyone, not just the young, male, neck tattooed, and fit, which is most cyclists. 

Here’s an interesting wrinkle: to be called a bike commuter, you need use a bike only about half the time, and in the U.S., only 0.6% of commuters use bikes. That is an amazing low stat, and when you read bicycling is zooming all over the nation, what you usually see are percentages, which are fungible.

Let’s say bike commuting has risen 10% in your town. That sounds like a lot, but less so when you see the numbers have increased from 100 to 110. 

What brings this to mind is a recent story that Harrisburg, under Republican control, is willing to throw some more money at bikes, but has taken a hostage.

If passed, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh might have to choose between the moola and recently passed “driver equity” laws. 

It began with a decent idea: Since police stops of motorists are disproportionately Black, let’s allow cops to write a ticket and mail it, as with red-light cameras. I supported the idea.

But before the bill passed, enforcement mysteriously disappeared from the language. No more mail-in tickets. The so-called “drivers equity” had become bait and switch. Another Democratic triumph for law-breakers.

This gets added to the non enforcement of traffic laws routinely violated by bicycles, which are vehicles under state law. Red lights and stop signs are steadfastly ignored. 

The proposed bill also orders municipalities to enforce all provisions of the traffic code. Naturally, the bike cult hates being told to obey the law. They don’t pollute, so they feel they should be exempt. 

Here in Philly, the bike lane craziness began around 2010, I was told by the Bicycle Coalition’s Randy LoBasso, when the city went into a swoon about bicycling. The city got out the white paint buckets and attacked Pine and Spruce streets, among others, and projected 6% bicycle commuters by 2020.

I loudly doubted that would happen, and was called all sorts of names by the bikeheads. It is now 2022,  and we are not halfway there — despite hundreds of miles of bike lanes and bike trails being built. 

But bicycles remain a sacred cow to City Hall, which doesn’t believe the plain facts that even if you build them — bike lanes — they won’t come. The bike lane paint was followed by plastic poles, which look like blind person’s canes, and redrawing some intersections in a blizzard of really ugly lines. And now car parking to create safe lanes for bikes requires new legislation. The Republicans saw a law and order opening.

The typical bike commute is about 4 miles, which used to be called “walking.” Bikes are too susceptible to weather to ever become an “important” part of Philly’s traffic infrastructure, as Mayor Michal Nutter once foolishly said. (He lived in Overbrook Farms, about 8 miles from City Hall, but never commuted by bike.) 

Philadelphians don’t want, don’t need, and won’t use bike lanes.The statistics are there for anyone to see, but members of a “green” cult aren’t really interested in facts and stats. 

10 thoughts on “Dilemma: Bikeheads would have to obey law”

  1. I am not surprised. Bike lanes and bike riders were a constant headache to us before we left Philly. There are other ways to be green that do not involve disrupting the city for a small and vocal majority. How about improving mass transit? But reality and the welfare and will of the people seems to mean little to either Dems or Repubs. A majority of Americans (61%) continue to say that abortion should be legal. According to the last five national polls 82 percent of Americans want term limits for elected representatives. The most recent polling, conducted June 10-12, found 68% of voters back stricter gun laws. Most Americans oppose allowing transgender female athletes to compete against other women at the professional, college and high school level. None of those facts make any difference in the outcomes we experience and it seems that many politicians don’t give a hoot about what “the people” want. They are beholden not to the people but to special interests only.

    Hey pallie,
    Guess how hot it gets at a cemetery !
    So there I was back in ’65. I rode a bike to work everyday the summer that I got the job. Don’t remember the miles or the travel time. Didn’t matter, public transportation was less than ideal and the obvious, I didn’t have a car.
    Seventeen and in shape . Me – not the roads. Certainly not the drivers. Back then, it was a game. See how close you get without hitting the bike.
    My not so humble opinion. FORGETABOUTIT ! You want to ride a bike to work, have at it. Wear protective clothing and hope for the best. White lines won’t save you. Common sense will.

  3. As a lifelong Suburbanite, when I first went into the city at the beginning of the bike laws, I had no idea what those separate lanes were for. There were no bikes in them, and a lot of cars, and taxis were taking up space there parking, dropping off, turning right at corners, and bypassing traffic. Now that I know what the lanes are supposed to be for, I still do not know how to navigate them, and there are still no bikes in them, and the cars and taxis are still taking up space and doing what they want in those lanes. Not sure this is government regulations at its most effective.

    1. As the stats show, there is NO rational basis for this, other than “Amsterdam does it,” which I do not consider to be rational for Philly.

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