GOTHAM has Batman.
Philly has Bikeman?
After what seems like decades of being lectured about the benefits of bicycling (some of which are true) and promises of enforcement against bad bicyclists (almost nonexistent) and entreaties to give and get respect, I thought I caught a whiff of the city doing something to improve bicycling behavior.
A friend noticed a poster tacked to a pole near 6th and Bainbridge that had four panels, two on the top and two on the bottom. The poster was edged with miniature Philadelphia city seals.
The top panels said, "Ride Your Bike in the Street with Traffic Flow," and the other, "Walk Your Bike on the Sidewalk, Police Bikes Exempt." The bottom panels said the same in Spanish. None mentioned keeping your clothes on. (Hello, Naked Bike Riders.)
Has the city finally moved to rein in biker rogues?
In a word, "No," I'm told by the city's bicycle czar, otherwise known as Andrew Stober, chief of staff of the Mayor's Office of Transportation and Utilities. He checked with the city and the "cycling community, but no one knows who put them up."
I do. A vigilante.
Bikeman! Or Bikewoman!
To be fair, the city hasn't been totally inert.
The czar draws my attention to some efforts, including bus shelters and buses with posters reading, "It's Called a Sidewalk, Not a Sideride" (nine locations), "Yep, You Too: It's Road Safety. Not Rocket Science" (six locations), and "If You Bike Against Traffic, the Traffic is Against You" (eight buses). In the campaign, he says, "we try to target the most dangerous and annoying behaviors."
No red-light running? OK.
Back to Bikeman. Or Bikewoman.
The czar doesn't know if posting this stuff is legal, but we will ignore that. Stober says he's had reports of similar signs in Queen Village and Bella Vista.
His reaction to the vigilante signage? (That would be Direct Citizen Action, in PC language.)
"I am always glad to see communities taking positive steps to educate their neighbors" on courtesy and consideration.
He provided another example - an unauthorized (kind of official-looking) sign posted at the singing fountain at Tasker Street and Passyunk Avenue - that reads: "No Dog Pooping. Violators Will Have Their Noses Rubbed In it."
It couldn't be a city-authorized sign because it is legible and written in plain English.
So who is the masked man or woman? Please come forward to be saluted by the citizens you are trying to help, ever so politely, by reminding pedalphiles that they are subject to the same l-a-w as motorists and pedestrians.
Being nice to bikeheads gets me just so far.
Bicyclists are always yelping about "equality" with cars on city streets. They have bike lanes - and want more - that prohibit cars. There are no car lanes that exclude bikes.
Is that "equality"?
I'll close with some positive info from the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, cited by the czar: As bicycling attracts older, and female, riders (in good weather), bike behavior gets better.
Makes sense. As I've noted before, bad bicyclists tend to be young and mostly male, such as food deliverers.
Finally, a salute to Bikeman. Or Bikewoman. May your number increase.
On Twitter: @StuBykofsky