On Wednesday, July 3rd, 38 people came into the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia offices to write letters to District Attorney Larry Krasner, asking he help the bicycling community advocate for statewide legislation which would help protect vulnerable road users.
We believe having the District Attorney of Philadelphia on our side, fighting for traffic victims’ rights, would go a long way toward making this legislation into law. We specifically called upon particularly vulnerable road users — couriers, delivery cyclists, and all who use their bicycle to make a living — to write a letter and tell their personal story with the district attorney.
Representatives Brett Miller, a Republican from Lancaster County; and Mary Jo Daley, a Democrat from Narberth in Montgomery County; introduced HB1536 in late May. It awaits action by the House Transportation Committee when the Legislature reconvenes in the fall.
This bill is one of the four safety bills that the Bicycle Coalition, Vision Zero Alliance, and Families for Safe Streets Greater Philadelphia have called for in order to achieve Vision Zero in Philadelphia and save lives throughout Pennsylvania.
Too often, drivers who injure or kill pedestrians, cyclists, and other vulnerable road users are not charged, or get away with little more than a very small fine.
The “non-charging” of drivers who kill vulnerable users was the subject of a report by the Bicycle Coalition and Families for Safe Streets Greater Philadelphia released in February 2019.
As many of us noted in our letters to the District Attorney, we do not support putting more people in prison, but there needs to be some kinds of consequences for people who break the law and leave another person injured or killed.
HB1536, which we support, does four important things.
1) It defines a “vulnerable highway user” as a pedestrian or person on: a self-propelled device (a bicycle or skateboard, for example.), an auxiliary powered transportation vehicle, an animal (horseback rider), an animal-drawn vehicle (Amish buggy) or farm vehicle.
2) Anyone convicted of “careless” driving can have their license suspended for one year (instead of six months)
3) Drivers must give all vulnerable highway users four feet of passage (not only bicyclists)
4) Increases fines for causing death, serious and bodily injury of vulnerable highway users by careless and reckless driving.
Drivers who cause death, serious and bodily injury by reckless driving who are convicted of a first degree misdemeanor. Reckless driving includes speeding, driving without a license, driving while impaired or performing an illegal maneuver.
- Death = a fine of $10,000 (instead of $200)
- Serious bodily injury = a fine of $5,000 (instead of $200)
- Bodily injury = a fine of $1,000 (instead of $200)
Drivers who cause unintentional death, serious and bodily injury by careless driving. Careless driving is defined as someone who drives with careless disregard for safety of persons or property.
- Unintentional death = a fine of up to $5000 (instead of $500)
- Unintentional serious bodily injury = a fine of up to $2500 (instead of $250)
- Unintentional bodily injury = a fine of up to $500
Thanks to all the couriers and commuters who came out to our office on Wednesday, and to everyone who couldn’t make it but pledged to send a letter through our online platform. (If you haven’t yet, you can still pledge to write a letter here.) We will keep everyone who participated to make Philadelphians safer up to date on this legislation and how else you can help!