And unlike reckless drivers, bike scofflaws typically get off free. They often flee accidents, and though police can issue tickets for violations, they almost never do. Philadelphia police wrote just 14 tickets to bicyclists last year, compared with more than 200,000 to drivers. "Are we as diligent about it as we should be? Probably not," Philadelphia Sgt. Ray Evers said. "But we have to prioritize. We can't even stop every car violation we see."
Police are hoping to change that, at least for a few hours, when they launch an effort to inform cyclists of the laws of the road. In the next few weeks, officers from the Ninth Police District, which includes Rittenhouse Square and much of Center City, will flood the area to write tickets. Members of the Bicycle Coalition are expected to be there to hand out information about responsible biking.
"I've always received complaints," said Philadelphia Capt. Dennis Wilson of the Ninth District. "People get so fed up that I've had patrolmen get yelled at for biking on the sidewalk."
Bicyclists are bound by the same laws as drivers. They are supposed to stop at lights and stop signs and to signal before turning. On roads that don't have a bike lane, cyclists are supposed to keep to the right when possible. Drivers are supposed to treat bicycles as cars and to stay out of bike lanes, except when making a turn. And in Philadelphia, only children 12 and younger may legally ride on sidewalks.