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Bike messengers protest city's 'anti-cycling' mood

The Philadelphia Inquirer: Bike messengers protest city’s ’anti-cycling’ mood

By Robert Moran
Inquirer Staff Writer

Nearly 100 bicycle messengers rallied at John F. Kennedy Plaza yesterday evening to protest what they called a growing "anti-cycling" mood in the city.

"We’re here because we’ve got this feeling that people are against us," said Jorge Brito, 28, a spokesman for the Philadelphia Bike Messengers Association, at the gathering at LOVE Park.

The messengers oppose two bills before City Council that would raise fines for cycling violations and expand regulations for bicycles, including a mandate for license plates.

They also decried an incident in which they said an angry motorist ran a cyclist off a Center City street on Thanksgiving morning, causing her to land on her face and suffer a broken jaw.

Rachel Fletcher, 30, a messenger, was hospitalized after a 2 a.m. incident on 23d Street near Locust Street, said her roommate, Jeff O’Neill, 26, also a messenger.

The messengers said cyclists, particularly those who need bikes for their jobs, were being unfairly singled out by the legislation.

"We work on our bikes," Brito said. "We work 40 hours a week, rain or shine."

One of the bills proposes a $1,000 fine for riding a "brakeless" bike. Messengers often use fixed-gear bicycles that rely on the pedaler to control the speed and stop the bike on their own.

O’Neill said such bikes require few repairs beyond the occasional flat tire. O’Neill said they can be outfitted with brakes, but riders can still use them without brakes, making the requirement pointless. He called the proposed $1,000 fine "insane."