City Council and Mayor Nutter are about to set smarter rules of the road for bicyclists, pedestrians, and motorists - making this a fine time to push ahead with plans to make Philadelphia the next great city with a bicycle-sharing program.
A bill before Council could improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians alike by imposing fines of up to $75 for riding on sidewalks or running a red light. Drivers could be fined for parking in a bike lane or opening car doors into oncoming bicycle traffic. Ouch!
Bike enthusiasts were wise to support the setting of new rules, which could encourage the growth of bicycle commuting in the city, which is already 36,000 riders strong, according to the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia.
Dedicated bicycle lanes on streets in Center City have given cyclists the space and cover they need to ride to work, play, or run errands that don't require a whole lot of hauling. Also, the city is proposing a 1.1-mile bicycle trail that could link the historic John Bartram's Garden to the Schuylkill Banks trail. And developer Carl Dranoff recently offered bicycles for four-hour jaunts to tenants of his Symphony House on South Broad Street.
For some time, urban dwellers in Europe have been able to share bikes in places like Lyon, France, and Barcelona, Spain. But the U.S. movement, with sharing programs in 30 cities, including Boston and Washington, has left Philadelphia behind.
So, it's good news that Nutter's aides are moving ahead with bike-share plans here. The city is well poised to benefit from the positive environmental and lifestyle spinoffs of cyclists checking in at a bike-share station, swiping a card, and pedaling away.