Philly police ticket inattentive drivers, cyclists, pedestrians

The Philadelphia Transportation Authority’s “Give Respect, Get Respect” campaign is an effort to promote safety among drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians.

Since May, police have issued hundreds of warnings to drivers who are texting and cyclists who are riding on sidewalks.

They’ve also handed out safety brochures to pedestrians crossing the street with their heads buried in their Blackberrys.

Rina Cutler, deputy mayor for transportation, says the authority intends to increase its efforts.

“We think that’s a good start and we think we’ve got people’s attention. But for those people who don’t seem to care if they’re creating an unsafe environment, we’ll probably start writing a lot more tickets,” she said. “We need to slow down, pay attention to what’s around us, be it bicyclists or pedestrians, and let’s all try to get along out there.”

Cyclists say the campaign should focus more on cars since the consequences of a driver’s traffic violation can be far more serious than a cyclist’s infraction.

Mike McGettigan, who has been biking for half a century, co-owns Trophy Bikes, which faces one of the busiest sections of Walnut Street.

“Stringently ticketing 30-pound bikes while watching people driving 3,000-pound cars well over the speed limit seems [like] a bad sense of proportion,” McGettigan said. “They could write 600 tickets a day on the Walnut Street Bridge.”

McGettigan said he’s baffled by what motorists get away with: speeding, running red lights, talking on cell phones.

“I think we need a little pressure on that kind of behavior first before we start ticketing a mom who’s riding her kid to day care who cuts onto the sidewalk for 10 feet,” he said.

Transportation authorities say that cyclists, drivers and pedestrians should be held equally accountable for dangerous behavior.

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