Pennsylvania Rep Wants to Mandate Reflective Clothes for Biking at Night

Today in bad ideas, Bike Pittsburgh reports that Pennsylvania State Representative Anthony DeLuca wants state traffic code to mandate that anyone riding a bike at night wear reflective clothing.

Mandating reflective clothing for nighttime bike riding would “effectively kill” bike-share systems in Pittsburgh (pictured) and Philadelphia. Photo: Brad Aaron
Mandating reflective clothing for nighttime bike riding would “effectively kill” bike-share systems in Pittsburgh (pictured) and Philadelphia. Photo: Brad Aaron

Bike Pittsburgh points out that this type of law opens the door to selective enforcement and harassment by police. Requiring people to purchase and carry special apparel would also create an obstacle to riding, putting a damper on the “safety in numbers” effect as cities like Pittsburgh and Philadelphia are adding bike infrastructure and introducing bike-share systems.

Writes Scott Bricker, executive director of Bike Pittsburgh:

Fewer people biking means that biking is less safe for everyone.

The apparel guidelines that HB 1361 imposes are also redundant to Pennsylvania’s current night riding requirements per the vehicle code, and are not proven to provide an additional benefit to people who bicycle. Current Pennsylvania laws require people on bikes to have a rear reflector and front light.

We feel that better enforcement of the existing laws are needed, not new requirements. HB 1361 makes it impossible to simply jump on a bike and use it for regular transportation, even if you own a properly lit bicycle, because you would also always have to have your special cycling gear to ride legally. Specifically, the bill will effectively kill the bike share systems that were recently launched in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Even though bike share bikes are outfitted with front and rear running lights and reflectors, a large part of the customer base is people who spontaneously need a bike and probably have not packed special reflective clothing.

Bike Pittsburgh is encouraging Pennsylvanians to contact their reps about the bill, which is co-sponsored by legislators in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

Elsewhere on the Network: Vibrant Bay Area tallies the losses caused by forcing residential tenants to pay for parking, Green City Blue Lake reports that opposition is growing to Cleveland’s cars-first “Opportunity Corridor,” and Greater Greater Washington has an interesting post on the characteristics of successful college-oriented development.

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