November 24 – Bicycle accidents in Pennsylvania are not a frivolous affair; Some state legislatures just want to treat them that way.
According to the state Department of Transportation, 24 cyclists were killed and another 754 injured in crashes in Pennsylvania in 2021. Almost all accidents involved cars or trucks, and most occurred at intersections.
Pennsylvania doesn’t have a cycling culture, so it lacks infrastructure to ensure bicycles and motorized vehicles can travel safely on the streets together.
This has changed as part of government policies and aligned with priorities such as reducing air pollution and improving public health. PennDOT now incorporates independent bike lanes and street bike lanes into its transportation planning and financing.
Recently, the state legislature passed a solid law that would have allowed local governments to use planters, other physical barriers, or parking lanes to protect cyclists from traffic on busy roads. The bill was named after Susan Hicks of Philadelphia and Emily Fredricks of Pittsburgh, who died in bicycle accidents in those cities.
Unfortunately, Republican leaders could not resist using the law as an element of political theater. They attached it to another bill that would authorize the appointment of a special prosecutor to deal with crimes committed on property owned by the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, the local transportation authority for Philadelphia.
The SEPTA bill is part of Legislative Republicans’ political crusade against Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, whom House Republicans recently indicted. Rather than enact meaningful crime-fighting measures like allowing Philadelphia and other cities to adopt gun safety measures more stringent than state law, Republicans have found it much easier to simply target Krasner — who is likely to remain in office, because the Republicans probably won’t get the two-thirds majority needed to convict him in the Senate.
Because of this stunt, Governor Tom Wolf had no choice but to veto the bill, since the state constitution requires the legislature to pass bills that deal with only a single issue.
This legislative train wreck shows why the single-purpose rule is a good idea. The newly elected legislature should pass the Bicycle Safety Act on its own.