Philadelphia’s Cyclists get Screwed Nov 20, 2009

no brakes? no more!

Tony has been telling me about this for a few days now and Jeremy just sent me this email. Sounds like Philadelphia is getting a dose of anti-bicycle legislation. Just read below:

Hey John I’m hoping you could post this on your blog so the word can be spread,

I’m a follower of your blog and have seen that you’ve ridden in Philly before and just wanted to inform you of two bills that have just been proposed by the Philadelphia City Council. The first will increase fines drastically for such things as riding on the sidewalk and riding with headphones. This bill will also impose a $1000 fine and the possible confiscation of the bicycle if riding “brakeless”, the council member specifically mentions fixed gear bicycles in the interviews he has done regarding the bill. While I am all for safe and smart cycling laws, under this bill the fine for riding with headphones would be three times the amount of the fine for running a stop light with an automobile, which one seems more dangerous?

The second bill (and scariest to me) is one that would require bicycles in Philadelphia to be registered at a cost of $20.00 and have plates displayed in an easy to view place; the fine for riding an unregistered bike would be $100. The council member who proposed this bill stated the plates would be a way to identify unruly cyclist, but where does it end, do we start displaying plates while we walk so laws regarding pedestrians can be enforced? Also in his proposal he mentions nothing about the proceeds of registering going to help enhance the bicycle infrastructure or the cycling community in anyway.

Again I am not against following the rules of the road but these bills will only hinder the growth of the cycling community in Philadelphia.

Here are the links to the bills and the names of the council members who introduced these bills today, if any of you ride bikes in Philly (or have ridden) I urge you to call or email and voice your opposition to these proposed bills before they become laws.

Council member James Kenney (increased fines) – [email protected] – (215) 686-3450 or (215) 686-345
Council member Frank DiCicco (mandatory registration) – [email protected] – (215) 686-3458 or (215) 686-3459

This is fucked. Seriously. Everyone email these people and tell them how you feel. Remember to be professional and courteous so your voice is heard. I’m not wholeheartedly against the “no brakes” law or the riding on the sidewalk / running a red light law, but the registration is way out of line. Are you going to make skateboarders, rollerblades, joggers and pedestrians register as well? Pedestrian traffic in a city needs to be encouraged, not discouraged. Requiring bicycle registration is absurd. Like hell if I’d put a fucking tag on any of my vintage bikes.

  • It looks like Philly is trying to make a clear distinction that bicycles are vehicles. This is fine in the fact that it’s more true than it isn’t. However there is an increase in fines for riders but nothing to fine the people that put the riders at danger.

    There is a bridge in town that I’ll hit the sidewalk on every time after being side swiped and hit on seperate occasions. If this came with impatient driver fines I’d feel a lot better about it.

    That and before I completely condemn the registration I’d have to get the specifics of the plate. However it would take one ingenious method of fixation for me not to cry foul.

  • jnd

    blame the litigation crazy masses of the us of a!

  • matt

    I wrote both of them a letter

  • drew leshko

    “(c) Brakes. – Every pedalcycle shall be equipped with a braking system which will stop the pedalcycle in 15 feet from an initial speed of 15 miles per hour on a dry, level and clean pavement.”

  • thejake

    These guys are the chair and co-chair of the Committee on Environmental Issues.

  • jj

    Is it fair that you can drive your car with stereos bangin loud as f’ck, but you can’t listen to music while pedaling?

  • Mikesaid

    I’m really kind of bummed about this, I was reading about this last night $1000 dollar fine. Commuting this morning there’s no doubt more cops on the look out.

  • I just posted a photo of one of our Philly dealer’s solution to the issue.

  • smokestacks

    shut up the jake, you are a fat turd. This party sucks.

  • chris

    I live in philly and ride a fixed/track bike
    This is an attempt to generate revenue. The city’s public transportation system went on strike after the world series and instead of standing by their decision to not cave in, they did and are now looking for ways to make up for the money. Additionally, the state attempted to pass a tax on all the city’s cultural institutions, and this was defeated by protesters. Another reason why funds are needed. There are some 36,000 bikers a year, so twenty bucks on every head is a lot of untaxed money to be used on whatever. However, the city is somewhat bike friendly, there are a number of bike lanes, but most are arbitrary streets that would add miles upon miles to one’s commute. And those that are useful only exist in places where wealthy people live. I’m all for safe biking. I don’t blow through red lights, but if I am stopped and there is no traffic in sight, and can get a jump on the crazy asshole that has been honking at me for the past three blocks, I’m going to pedal on through. It’s sad, but this legislation will probably pass b/c a med student was hit by some crazy spandexed weekend warrior and now is all f’d up… so next time you came to philly, keep your whits about you. the pigs will be looking for your ass.

  • rand0m


  • Menbutts

    This is insane, no one cares about cyclists! NO one would ever ask a motorist to go through what a cyclists has to.
    Inches a way from fast moving death on one side, and suprise injury on the other. “will it be a door? a carriage? absent minded pedestrian? a pothole that is deep enough to FLIP OVER my mode of transportation? garbage? parked car of someone more important than rules or courtesy? a cyclist going the wrong way(giving us all a bad name)?
    you want us to register bicycles then you need to provide us with a safe place to use them and ENFORCE the laws that protect us!

    We BK cyclists should ride on Philly in support and protest lest NY legislators think these bills are good ideas

  • chris

    just spoke with a friend (who is DiCicco’s aid) and fixed gears are considered a braking system… and this legislation was generated to create a buzz and get people talking. The hopes is it will create a better system for bikers and make it safer for everybody. Hopefully we are not all blindsided and the legislation gets passed….

  • blair

    REQUIRED REGISTRATION? that’s fucking insanity. brake laws can always be worked around and headphone laws will always be overlooked, but registration is WAY over the top.

  • Doug

    As a cyclist in Philadelphia, I encourage ALL people who are concerned with the above information to voice your opinions (in a respectable and level-headed manner) to the listed representatives above. I know that all of you must be upset by this news, everyone is already talking about it. It is one thing to shit talk & complain on the internet or to your group of friends, but the only way for our concerns to be heard is by contacting the source directly.

    Thank you for posting this and thanks to Jeremy for passing the information along.

  • Does anyone know about Berlin having the same law?

  • heath

    a friend told me that the polizei in berlin are fining cyclists when they cross into the pedestrian pathway, while it’s use. just imagine the money they’d bring in if the reverse law became an ordinance.

  • I thought we were suppose to help reduce the green house mission by riding and use less cars. WTF.
    Man if these bills passed I am really gonna feel sorry for the riders of Philly.

  • john

    Oh no, people want to help save your life by making you use brakes??? The nerve of some people!

    Riding brakeless is RETARDED.


  • Obviously, the two do not ride bicycles. I sent both clear and polite messages that I was against what they were trying to introduce. I feel sorry for PA as well. If PA citizens don’t fight this, it’s their loss and it’s deserved. Typically, I believe in rules and the more rules the better. However, fines and registration only prevent car riddled people to ride their bikes.

  • Wow! When will it end? God knows there is nowhere to fit a license plate on my razor scooter.

  • jake

    good thing philly cops ride mountain bikes. they have to catch us first

  • Brendan

    First they introduced anti-bikie laws, and I did not speak out-cause I don’t ride a hog:
    Then they came for the fixies and freewheels, and I did not speak out- cause I don’t ride one;
    Then they came for the road bikes- and there was nothing left to ride

  • Jeremy

    Thank you John for posting this and thanks to all have called or emailed the councilmen, the only way to beat this thing is to voice our opposition.

  • mark

    plates are gonna suck balls, BUT, anything to get rid of the motorist mentality, i.e. i pay road tax and insurance so i have more rights than you,
    bring in compulsory insurance for cyclist, skateboarders and PEDESTRIANS TOO!!! seriously
    cycle paths are NOT the answer, we need to integrate transport, bikes were here first anyway, or maybe we should let the horse drawn carriages own the roads again?
    bikes will continue to be 2nd class vehicles cause they don’t contribute FINANCIALLY,
    you wanna be safe on the roads, you gotta pay for that right now
    you wanna rule the streets with speed and efficiency? then you lose all the safety that legislation brings, cause like it or not, cars rule the streets, and that ain’t gonna change any time soon,
    “we only change when the fear of staying the same outgrows the fear of change”

  • Fritschi

    Hi there from berlin…
    Thats really f++ked up. Sadly since spring 2009 it is the daily reality in berlin.
    The cops are on a prowl for fixed gear riders. You get a bill and have to pay a hundred of euros, they take a picture of your bike and if they catch you again, they can confiscate the bike.
    Some of my friends were beaten of the bike, thats all ridiculous. The problem here in berlin is, that cops are only looking for messengers and fixie riders. They don’t give a fuck about other cyclist. That enrages me extremly…They are the f++king executives, not the legislative, but they do what they want… All I can say is A.C.A.B!

  • joe

    Ok if they tried doing this over here in the UK I’d resist it and let it get taken to a higher court. I feel that strongly about it.

    If riders do resist this NOW (while it’s still a news story) then it will put the ignorant attitudes of the legislaters out for all to see.

  • Jon

    I was going to move to phillyin a year and Now i may not. Call the representatives not just email. Be polite but assertive. Apparently they have been getting calls alll day about this. keep calling. Cyclists in philly should protest this tooth and nail. If there was going to be a protest I would come up from Baltimore to go.

  • sk

    “Oh no, people want to help save your life by making you use brakes??? The nerve of some people!

    Riding brakeless is RETARDED.


    maybe if you don’t know what you’re doing. it only takes a couple days to adjust. i’ve ridden brakeless everyday for half my life. i’ve never been in an accident or pulled over for anything. i would say i ride safer and am more aware of the road than any other car or cyclist (brakes or not). it teaches you to look ahead and feel the flow of traffic better.

    I would say the legislation is better directed at the new wave of BMX riders with no brakes. that is pretty retarded.

  • Lowell

    A bicycle license may be more appropriate. $20.00 a year to save hundreds on public transportation would be ok with me. You don’t have a license the bike your riding gets taken away.

    just my .02

  • Visited Philadelphia, liked it, sent my polite/assertive email stating that what they were doing was ridiculous. Keep sending emails and calling their offices expressing your objection to their nonsense politics. All the Philly riders have a bit of my support from Nashville.