Today's guest blogger is Bobby Henon, a Philadelphia City Councilman representing the 6th District in Northeast Philadelphia. He can be reached through www.bobbyhenon.com.
Riding a bicycle is a great blend of practicality, exercise, and fun, but lot of people still have questions and concerns about biking. They may feel unsafe while riding in busy city streets or hate wearing a helmet. Others may simply be unsure how the rules of the road translate to bikers.
Philadelphia is addressing those concerns in many ways. The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia offers many resources for people looking to learn more about biking and bike safety (including adult learn-to-ride classes). Bike lanes have been expanded throughout the City and there's even a new bike share program in the works.
The city’s programs don’t always address biking for kids, though, and safe riding can be a wonderful way for kids to play and get the daily physical activity that they need. This starts by making sure kids and adults are equipped with the knowledge and tools for fun riding. We'll be sharing some of those tools at Biking with Bobby as part of my ongoing Philly Play! initiative.
Biking with Bobby is Saturday, Oct. 12 from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Lincoln High School parking lot, 3201 Ryan Avenue. Offered in partnership with The Bicycle Coalition, the event will feature:
- A big group ride along the 2.5-mile Lincoln Loop
- A Bike Rodeo skills training obstacle course for kids (space is limited and registration opens at 10:15 a.m.)
- A free raffle to win a new bike, passes to the upcoming Bike Expo, and more
- Free bike tune ups from Liberty Bell Bicycles
- A bike ID etching and decorating station
- An urban riding safety presentation
- And more!
Visit Philly Play! for all the details. I hope that you’ll bring your family and join us there! You can also reserve a loaner bike for you or your child – just email firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know.
If you can't make it – or even if you can – below are some urban riding tips from The Bicycle Coalition. More like them, and many other resources, can be found at their website. Following these safety basics yourself – and teaching your kids to do the same – will help you all feel safe and comfortable on a bicycle in the city. Happy riding!
- Safety - Be Visible: By law in Philadelphia all bicycles need a white front light and at least a red back reflector. Bike lights aren’t for you to see where you’re going – they’re for others to see you. Always ride with a front and back light, and wear bright colors at night. Even better: explore the growing industry of spoke and wheel-based lighting systems.
- Ride in the same direction as traffic: With almost no exceptions, there are no two-way bike lanes in Philadelphia. Ride in the same direction as vehicular traffic, whether you are in a bike lane or vehicular lane.
- Stop at stop signs and red lights: It’s the law, and keeps you safe. The majority of bicycle crashes occur at intersections. Always yield to pedestrians. Follow the laws to be predictable and safe.
- Stay off of the sidewalks (Philadelphia code 12-808): It is illegal to ride your bicycle on the sidewalk, no matter how dangerous or congested the adjacent street might be. Be a good ambassador for bicyclists and walk it when you’re on the sidewalk! You are only allowed to ride on the sidewalk if you are under 13 years of age.
- Take the lane for your safety: If you and a car cannot travel comfortably side by side, you should ride in the middle of the lane. You may also need to "take the lane" to avoid debris or potholes, and to stay out of the door zone of parked cars. Taking the lane when making turns also helps avoid riding in a motor vehicle’s blind spot. A car cannot legally pass a cyclist without four feet of clearance.
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