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Anger over bicyclist treatment

Metro: Anger over bicyclist treatment

PHILADELPHIA. A few days after one of their own suffered serious facial injuries in a hit-and-run crash, city bicycle messengers upset with what one courier describes as "rising anti-cycling sentiment" are rallying at LOVE Park this evening.

Rachel Fletcher, a 30-year-old experienced and well-known Center City courier, was struck at 23rd and Locusts Streets early Thanksgiving morning and remained at Hahnemann Hospital until Saturday after surgery to repair her face and jaw.

Despite the severity of the crash, police did not take a report until 12 hours later Thursday, which some in the bicycling community said yesterday is part of a culture in Philadelphia that treats cyclists as less important on streets than cars. A sergeant at the Ninth District declined to comment on the incident last night, citing an ongoing investigation.

Members of the Philadelphia Bicycle Messenger Association are planning to meet at 16th and JFK Boulevard today at 5 p.m. to distribute a statement, group member Jorge Brito said.

"There is a lot of tension out there right now," Brito, 28, said.

Fletcher said she was yelled at by an angry driver near 23rd and Locust and then struck by his silver hatchback at about 2:30 a.m. Brito says police are treating the incident as an accident, not the hit-and-run they said it should be.

After months of bicyclists making headlines, alternately labeled as victims and menaces, City Council is now considering increased bicycle violation fines and bike registration and license plates.

"We support consistent and equal enforcement of existing laws, but the proposed new fines are going to discourage cycling," Brito said. "We are fighting against a negative image of urban cyclists. We just want people to see our side of the road."