Philly Residents Hold “Solidarity Cycle” To Honor Recent Cyclist Fatalities
On July 26th, 2020, members of Philadelphia’s cycling community gathered to commemorate the lives of four cyclists killed on the city’s streets. Event participants met at the Dell Music Center and pedaled about 12 miles to the East Laurel Hill Cemetery.
Between June 21st and July 22nd, four bicyclists have perished on Philly’s roads. The Bicycle Coalition of Philadelphia calls these recent deaths “unacceptable” and demands the city government place a greater emphasis on improving cyclist safety standards.
Family and friends of cyclist William Lindsay III were central to organizing this Sunday’s memorial ride. On July 12th, a Chevy Camaro driver struck Lindsay on the 3800 block of Ridge Avenue and left the cyclist to die. Local police are now asking for help from the public in this hit-and-run case.
In a statement to the press, Will Lindsay’s girlfriend called on fellow cyclists to advocate for safer riding conditions in Philadelphia. Lindsay’s family also set up a GoFundMe page to help organizations like the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia.
Unfortunately, AAA now reports a significant increase in fatal hit-and-run cases, especially involving pedestrians and cyclists. There’s also new data from Philadelphia’s Police Department that suggests pedestrian fatalities have risen almost 90 percent at the start of 2020.
One possible explanation for this surge in cyclist and pedestrian fatalities might be the COVID-19 pandemic. As people search for socially responsible transportation alternatives, many Philly residents have been walking or riding their bikes. In fact, local leaders have noticed a 50 – 150 percent increase in traffic on the city’s 335-mile Circuit Trails.
To address these traffic safety issues, Philadelphia has been working with the Vision Zero initiative since 2016. Vision Zero analysts help determine problem zones and work with local leaders to put together actionable traffic safety policies. Currently, Vision Zero Philadelphia plans to eliminate all traffic fatalities by 2030.
To find more info on the July 26th ride to honor the recent cyclist fatalities, please visit this page put together by the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia.
Can I Ride My Bike During Philadelphia’s Stay at Home Order?
The mayor of Philadelphia issued the city’s stay-at-home order which went into effect Monday, March 23, 2020, at 8 p.m. The order requires people to stay at home unless they are getting essential goods or services which have been defined in the order. Some of these include food and necessary home supplies, medical supplies or medical treatment.
Can I Ride My Bike During Philadelphia’s Stay at Home Order?
Philadelphia’s Stay at Home Order specifically allows for someone ride their bike for two purposes. First to commute to certain essential jobs and to go out in the community to get needed services and supplies. Second, it exempts outdoor recreation such as walking, running and cycling so long as the person is practicing social distancing.
The order allows these activities with close family members so long as there is still social distancing of at least 6 feet with others. So ride your bike, but follow the rules to keep the virus from spreading.
How do I Ride My Bike Safe for Me and Others During COVID-19?
Philadelphia’s stay at home order lists many activities to do and places to go during the virus crises. However, just because it’s allowed, doesn’t mean that those involved shouldn’t engage in practices that lower the risk. Before riding your bike during the order, look at these tips that are designed to keep you safe:
- Stay Apart from Other Riders: If in a group, you need to ride at least six feet from another. The order allows family members to ride closer, however, make sure you keep vigilant for non-family members and stay six feet away.
- Six Feet from Strangers: For those outside your group whether it is other cyclists or pedestrians, continue to use social distancing by staying 6 feet away.
- Social Distance Inside Stores: Whatever your essential destination, you should continue to social distance with everyone you see.
- Sanitize Your Bike: You might think there is no way your bike can have a virus on one of its surfaces, the truth is it’s possible, and there’s no way to know. Sanitize handlebars, seats, chains, locks, water bottles or any surface that you might tough.
- Park Bike Safely: Don’t just leave your bike on the sidewalk begging for someone to move it. Park it out of the way—which is good anytime—and then re-wipe surfaces when you leave the building.
Philadelphia’s stay at home order is designed to get people to avoid giving or getting the COVID-19 virus. It will only work if everyone, including cyclists, do their part to reduce or eliminate the risk of spreading the virus in the community.
Cycling is fun and good exercise and can be a great stress-reliever during the virus crises, but doing it safely will increase the odds that you don’t get the virus and then give it to someone else.
Philadelphia Struggles with How Best to Protect Cyclists
Like other big cities, Philadelphia has been encouraging people to get out of their cars and walk or ride bikes to commute around the city. They have added miles of bike lanes and have adopted programs to reduce auto and bike accidents.
While most cyclists are happy with this push to support cycling, many still feel the city needs to do more. This feeling came to a head after a tragic accident a couple of years ago. In November of 2017, a 24-year-old female cyclist died when she was struck by a trash truck at 11th and Spruce streets. Allegedly the driver was wearing earbuds and looking down at some paperwork.
New Safety-Friendly Bike Lanes
The death of the cyclist prompted a renewed effort to repaint, move and upgrade some of the bike lanes in the area. One of the controversial parts of the plan is to add a physical barrier such as flex poles between the street and the bike lane.
Changes were made on bike lanes all around Society Hill neighborhood however, the flex poles only went up west of Eighth Street because of resistance from some of the locals. For them, it was an aesthetics issue saying that the poles were unattractive, distracting and out of character for the area.
Picking a Side
A community leader says that aesthetics aren’t the only reason, the poles cause problems for busses, trash trucks and snow removal equipment. At present, the issue is at a standstill, and no poles are planned east of Eighth Street in the immediate future.
However, supporters say that the issue of safety and lives should outweigh other considerations. A spokesperson for the Bike Coalition said that not all locals are opposed to the poles, and said there are many who feel that the issue of safety for cyclists outweighs other considerations. A study is underway that will hopefully look at these issues and hopefully start a dialogue that can break the current impasse.
Philadelphia Fireworks Laws & Safety for July 4th, 2020 – Everything You Need To Know
With the 4th of July fast approaching, many Philadelphians have questions about what fireworks products are allowed in the city. Below, we’ll give you a quick rundown of the current state and local laws governing these festive firecrackers. This piece will also go over essential safety tips and show information for professional fireworks displays, as well as sharing what Philadelphia has in mind for celebrating July 4th in 2020.
Are Fireworks Legal In Pennsylvania?
Ever since House Bill 542 was passed in 2017, Pennsylvanian vendors can legally sell consumer-grade fireworks to residents. According to the law, these “Class C” products must each contain no more than 50 milligrams of explosive material. Some of the most popular legal items include:
- Roman candles
- Bottle Rockets
- Ground-based fireworks (e.g. cones, wheels, or fountains)
- Other Class C fireworks, that fall under the “consumer-grade” classification
It is still illegal to purchase fireworks that contain professional-grade pyrotechnics in the state of Pennsylvania.
By the way, tented vendors currently aren’t allowed to sell airborne consumer fireworks like Roman candles or bottle rockets. The only legal way to purchase these products is at a brick-and-mortar store. To find the closest fireworks vendor to your home, please click on this online store locator.
Can Philadelphians Use Fireworks?
As of July 3rd, 2019 it is now legal to purchase and set off fireworks in Philadelphia. Originally when House Bill 542 was passed, legalizing fireworks in the state of Pennsylvania, it was in direct conflict with Philadelphia’s Fire Code, which had expressly forbidden the use of fireworks in the city without a permit, but only one day before July 4th last year Mayor Jim Kenney amended Philadelphia’s fire code to comply with House Bill 542. so that it is now legal for people to purchase fireworks in Philadelphia.
The No-No’s For Using Fireworks In Pennsylvania
Even with the legalization of purchasing consumer fireworks in Philadelphia, there are many restrictions and laws regarding the use of fireworks in Philadelphia that citizens need to comply with. For starters, only people over the age of 18 can purchase consumer fireworks. Also, it’s against the law for anyone under the influence of alcohol or a psychoactive drug to use fireworks.
Here are a few of the places where it’s currently illegal to use fireworks in PA:
- 150 feet near “occupied structures” (e.g. homes or commercial buildings)
- Close to trees, power lines, or vehicles.
- Public spaces, unless you have written permission from the landowner or a permit.
- Inside buildings or cars.
Keep in mind that extremely loud fireworks might exceed local “noise pollution” policies as well. To read more on noise ordinances in Philadelphia, please read through this article.
Don’t Get Burned: Use These Fireworks Safety Tips!
Even if you’re well within the laws about using fireworks in Philadelphia, it’s important to practice vigilance when using commercial fireworks. Mishandling any of these products could easily result in damage to your property, third-degree burns, or eye trauma.
To ensure you’ll have a safe fireworks experience, it’s far better to purchase your goods from trusted vendors. Don’t settle for products that aren’t professionally packaged or show signs of wear-and-tear. It’s far better to pay a little extra for a quality product than to cut corners and end up with a burnt face!
If you’re unlucky enough to have a product that refuses to light up, then just toss it away. All fireworks products should ignite straight away, so never force a product to work by relighting it.
Celebrating July 4th in Philadelphia This Year, 2020
2020 has been a significantly different year than any we have experienced ever before. For the health and safety of all Philadelphians, the difficult decision was made to forgo the annual Wawa Welcome America live fireworks show, however that does not mean that there will be no celebrations, including the opportunity to see fireworks.
The multi-day citywide Independence Day festival will still be on this year with a shift to become a virtual event. From June 28th to July 4th a wide range of online activities will be available for your viewing pleasure. Everything from daily livestream concerts and virtual museum tours to food samples and contests for decorating your front door to celebrate Independence Day.
And you will still be able to see the grand fireworks show from 2019 on July 4th following that day’s concerts. You can find more information on this year’s July 4th Wawa Welcome America festival here.
Additional Resources On Philly Fireworks
If you have further questions about Pennsylvania’s fireworks policy, then click the link to check out the website put together by the Pennsylvania State Police answering common fireworks questions when using them in Pennsylvania. You could also read the entire text of House Bill 542 by clicking on this link.
Philly-Area Police Turn Up The Heat On Aggressive Drivers in 2019
According to a recent press release from PennDOT, dozens of police departments around Philadelphia will begin enforcing stricter safety laws on aggressive drivers. Officers hope this tougher stance will reduce the number of fatalities in southeastern Pennsylvania.
In total, 57 local municipalities in Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Bucks counties will take part in this new campaign. The PennDOT said this program will last until November 22, 2019.
Just a few of the activities police will be on the lookout for include excessive speeding, passing stopped school buses, and tailgating. Cops will also hand out steeper penalties for drivers caught going over the speed limit, DUI, and texting while driving.
The reason for this heightened surveillance mainly has to do with a 2015 PennDOT crash report. According to the data, road rage played a role in about 1,800 collisions and over 25 motorist deaths in the greater Philly area.
PennDOT hopes this new strategy will encourage more motorists to keep a level head and avoid unnecessary crashes. At the end of this campaign, road safety experts will review crash data to see if there was a decrease in injuries and fatalities.
Road rage is widespread across the USA. Indeed, one survey conducted by AAA found that 80 percent of American motorists experience intense frustration when driving within the span of a year. AAA also discovered that road rage was a factor in about 50 percent of fatal US crashes.
PennDOT is using a large part of the money it received from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to fund Philly’s aggressive driving crackdown. This new program is all a part of the Aggressive Driving Education and Enforcement Project, which was founded in 2006 to improve safety on Pennsylvania’s streets.
For more information on what PennDOT considers aggressive driving, please check out this official webpage. In addition to a definition of road rage, you’ll find tips on this website to help you effectively deal with aggressive drivers.