By Kimberly Garrison
Philadelphia Daily News
Daily News Personal FItness Columnist
I’M ALL for biking!
I think it’s wonderful that Mayor Nutter supports the greening of our city and is encouraging more folks to bike instead of drive.
After all, bicycling saves on fuel consumption, decreases pollution and reduces traffic. It’s great exercise and fun, too.
However, I was outraged and sickened when I read the horrible story of 40-year-old Andre Steed, found unconscious near 16th and Locust streets on Oct. 15.
Several witnesses have told police he was struck by a bicyclist who fled the scene.
Sneed, a paralegal at the law firm of Caesar, Rivise, Bernstein, Cohen & Pokotilow, later died of his injuries.
Police are investigating, and the law firm has offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person who struck their co-worker. (Call 215-546-TIPS.)
Almost daily in my frequent journeys in and around Center City, I witness near fatalities involving pedestrians and bikes.
An elderly woman I met at a function told me how she was now permanently disabled because of an irresponsible man riding on the pavement along Walnut Street.
This summer, a bicyclist nearly slammed into me and my toddler as we walked down a Center City street. Now I’m particularly cautious when I bring my son into town.
This really annoys me, because I should have the freedom to walk hand-in-hand with my toddler without fearing that some bicyclist is on our heels, about to collide with us at the turn of a corner, or oblivious to us as we try to cross the street.
Indeed, it is a rare day when I don’t see droves of Philadelphia cyclists doing illegal maneuvers.
Many ride on pedestrian-filled sidewalks. They ignore stop signs and red lights, weave in and out of traffic, pedal in the opposite direction of traffic and race the wrong way on one-way streets.
This is not only irresponsible, it’s criminal.
Bikes are vehicles. Period.
And they should be held to the same standards as drivers of other vehicles are.
Bikes should be required to have license plates, there should be mandatory liability insurance for bicyclists, and police should enforce the law against rogue cyclists as they do against lawbreaking motorists.
How many Andre Steeds must there be before we take swift and appropriate action? Why was there no public outcry over this innocent man’s untimely, tragic death?
My heart goes out to his shocked, grief-stricken family.
In his honor, I hope that Nutter will take a stand on this issue and see to it that strict enforcement of the law is applied to bicyclists.
I also hope that the scoundrel who committed this heinous act is caught and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
If you are a cyclist, you should know that the state of Pennsylvania views bicycles as vehicles, and cyclists are required to follow the same road rules that govern motor vehicles.
You should drive in the same direction as traffic.
Your “vehicle” should be equipped with the appropriate lights and reflectors.
You are prohibited from riding on sidewalks in business districts.
And you should always yield the right-of-way to pedestrians.
These rules are simple and designed for everyone’s protection.
Let’s hope that out of tragedy, triumphant change will come.