City Council Passes Complete Streets Bill

Council voted unanimously this morning to approve a comprehensive streets policy. Here's what it means for cyclists, drivers and pedestrians.

Today marks a big win for Philly cyclists, like me, with City Council’s unanimous passage of the Complete Streets Bill this morning, legislation that helps clarify the rules of the road for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians and mandates the creation of a Complete Streets Handbook, a checklist requiring that public and private transportation projects consider the needs of everyone who uses the roads.

Most notably for cyclists, the bill overhauls the city’s traffic code, bringing it up to snuff to conform to state law. These measures include (finally!) prohibiting parking in bike lanes, a violation that will carry a $50 or $75 fine; increasing the fine for riding on the sidewalk from $50 to $75; eliminating a law prohibiting cyclists from riding two abreast; and making opening a car door into a traffic lane—which is absolutely terrifying when you’re a cyclist, let me tell you—a traffic-code violation.

Whether or not these new rules will actually be enforced, of course, is a whole other matter. But it seems to me that a crackdown on bad road behavior, on the part of drivers and cyclists, would be a worthy undertaking from a safety standpoint. And besides, the extra cash from all those traffic tickets couldn’t hurt, either.

The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, of course, is hailing the legislation as a major victory and a smart move Philadelphia: “This bill will give Philadelphia one of the strongest municipal complete streets policies in the country,” said Alex Doty, the Executive Director of the Bicycle Coalition, in a statement. “We applaud City Council and especially Councilman Mark Squilla for making Philadelphia streets safer and more pleasant.”

Photo: Shutterstock