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Philadelphia Police Poised To Crack Down On Bicycle Traffic

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Philadelphia officials next month plan to use more "stick" in a program that takes a carrot-and-stick approach to bad behavior by people in cars, on bicycles and on foot.

The program, dubbed "Give Respect, Get Respect," was launched at the beginning of May, aimed at reining in bad behavior by motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians in Center City (see previous story).

Since then, some tickets, but mostly warnings have been handed out.

But deputy mayor Rina Cutler says that starting in August, more citations will be issued.

"After the first several months of doing that, we really need to pick up the enforcement side and really get serious," she told KYW Newsradio.

Cyclist Andrew Fleming was riding in the bike lane on 10th Street when he had to slam on the brakes to avoid crashing into a man who wrongfully crossed against the light while talking on his cell phone.

"I've always had to look out for pedestrians whether or not there have been bike lanes, but I feel like it is a little more obvious now when you should be paying attention when you are a pedestrian," Fleming said. "I try to follow the rules of the road because I used to be someone who didn't follow rules of the road and a couple of times I got into accidents and that made me think twice."

Nearly 600 bicyclists were given warnings since the program started, many for riding on the sidewalk or running red lights.

"We are starting to see a place for us to feel safe. It feels like there's been room made for us on the road and so it's time for us to start thinking about how it is the rules of the road apply to us now," said Alex Doty, executive director of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia.

Pedestrians who text while they walk without looking ahead will also be targeted, but for warnings only -- a point emphasized by Cutler in a later clarification of her original comments about the program.

"Pedestrians may be reminded to be more aware of their surroundings; however, there are no citations issued by the PPD (Philadelphia Police Department) for texting while walking. If a Philadelphia police officer observes a driver, cyclist or pedestrian participating in any kind of potentially dangerous behavior, the officer will remind them to be careful," the city said in a statement.

And on the motorist side, officials will be looking for drivers who don't respect the bike lanes.

The citations include $120 fines.

Grant money is being used to cover the costs of the increased enforcement which will last through the summer.

There are already plans in the works to get another grant to extend the increased enforcement another 40 weeks.

Reported by Mike Dunn, KYW Newsradio

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