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Pennsylvania bike law may improve safety for bikers

The Daily Pennsylvanian: Pennsylvania bike law may improve safety for bikers

Law requires four-foot distance between vehicles and bicyclists

By MANOLA GONZALEZ · April 24, 2012

A Pennsylvania bike law requiring a four-foot distance between bicyclists and vehicles may contribute to a safer environment for cyclists on campus.

Pennsylvania joined 20 other states with the same law, according to Chief of Staff for the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities Andrew Stober.

He added that the law, which was instated on April 2, “codified what sensible and decent drivers already do.”

Philadelphia had 564 people involved in a motor vehicle and bicycle crash in 2010 — four of whom died.

“The kind of coverage [the new law] has received is positive,” he continued.

Prior to the bill, no law was in place stipulating a safe distance between bicyclists and vehicles, according to Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush.

Although the Penn Patrol Zone does not have a greater problem with bicycle and vehicular accidents than anywhere else, Rush still cautions students to be more aware.

In 2009, there were 32 vehicular and bicycle accidents. The numbers dropped to 23 and 26 for 2010 and 2011, respectively. So far, 2012 has seen eight.

Rush believes the law is a good reminder to Penn students that “you’re in a really busy environment.”

It is important to talk to bicyclists about their responsibilities, such as not running lights or going the wrong way on streets, Rush said.

DPS does not always blame the drivers for these accidents. Rush added Penn’s campus enforces safe driving “way more than the rest of the city.”

However, she does ask the city to provide more specifics on how to enforce the new law.

Wharton professor Leonard Lodish, a long-time bicyclist on campus, has been involved in two vehicular accidents.

As a member of the Bike Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, who proposed the bill, Lodish believes the law will be beneficial.

“Some people don’t consider bikes as having the same right on the road as they do,” he said.

Wharton freshman Mike DeSantis has witnessed a similar issue while riding his bike.

However, DeSantis does not believe the law will have much of an effect. “I don’t think that it will make that much of a difference and cars will continue to disregard bikers,” he said.