Obeying the rules of the road

Flowers smile as you ride by. The sun removes its shades to give you a congratulatory wink and the birds chirp merrily, probably gushing about you. As to be expected, you have saved the environment

Flowers smile as you ride by. The sun removes its shades to give you a congratulatory wink and the birds chirp merrily, probably gushing about you. As to be expected, you have saved the environment from toxic fumes by riding your bicycle.

More and more students are taking the eco-friendly high road and straddling banana seats on their way to Main Campus, according to Charles Leone, deputy director of Campus Safety Services. This increase has not only prompted Temple to plan for more bike racks, but has born a program designed to combat the influx of campus bike theft.

“Operation I.D.” is simple in idea: the issuing of two red stickers – one conspicuously placed and another hidden – encrypted with a registration number, and the recording of the bike’s serial number.

“If a bike happens to get stolen and we recover it, we can find the owner and return it back to you,” said Leone, who spearheaded the program.

Casey Ingle, a senior psychology and theater double major, has taken advantage of the free service, but doesn’t feel the need to be grateful.

“It’s kind of ridiculous; red paper, identical number, tape – I’m just going to rip that off and then it’s completely ineffective,” said Ingle, who demonstrated by peeling off the corner of a sticker.

Leone said that alone doesn’t render the program useless. One would need to defile the serial number, located in several places on the bike, as well as take other measures to negate the precaution.

Michael Miraglia, owner of Mike’s Bikes, located at 1901 S. 13th St., said an average of more than 10 bikes get swiped per day, mainly because of inadequate locks.

“We have been staying away from the U-locks,” said Miraglia, referring to a popular choice that is rumored to be susceptible to the wiggling of a Bic pen. “[People are] now using heavy duty chains … but all are able to be broken.”

To infiltrate a standard cable lock, Leone said a thief would only need bolt cutters and seconds.

The potential costs of riding do not outweigh the joys for Leah Rossi, a sophomore transfer student who finds Philadelphia to be suitable for biking.

“A lot of roads are one-way in the city, and all you have to do is look one way and if a car is not coming, you go,” Rossi said. “But [you’ve] got to be careful for people who don’t stop at the stop signs. A lot of people don’t do that.”

Philadelphia is currently expanding the “city-wide bicycle route network,” with plans of aligning streets with 300 miles of bike trails, according to phila.gov. Miraglia said riders should be cautious while on these roads.

“The problem with the side of the traffic lanes is they’re never clean, and cars don’t concede to the riders, so they’re probably best to avoid it,” he said.

Debris is a problem in the city, especially around construction sites that are littered with bricks and nails that, if not heeded, “can make you do a little endo,” said Leone, an avid rider who bikes to work. But riders should have more than just debris on their radar.

“Use all your senses – your ears, your eyes, your feeling, your gut,” Leone said.

“Watch for the trolley tracks because that can really send you for a ride. When I’m riding I always look for the parked cars, because when people get out and open the car door, the next thing you know you’re taking a header.”

Some riders opt to use the sidewalk to avoid roadside mishaps. However, they are unaware that there are ordinances against it, he said. Even if riders do use the sidewalk, Leone said Campus Safety Services is understanding since “most of the bike riders I have seen are pretty respectful.”

Strictly enforced or not, Ingle said he swears against biking on the sidewalk. “You can’t ride on sidewalks because they suck.

Every single time I did, I got a flat tire.

There is so much construction in the middle of Broad [Street], that you have to go on the sidewalk and then people yell at you.”

Ingle said the road is not much better, because “[Vehicular drivers] don’t share the road … everyday is a close call.” Leone said to be aware of their surroundings, bicyclists should pocket their headphones and cell phones.

More than 150,000 bicyclists visit the emergency room annually for head injuries – more than twice the amount of injuries suffered in other sports, including baseball and football – according to a 2004 report from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

According to state law, helmets are optional for riders 12 and older. “If they want to break their head, that’s their choice,” he said.

Steve Wood can be reached at jacksonb@temple.edu.

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