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Consumers Corner # 26



By Jim Murphy

While backing into a parking space one dark rainy night in Society Hill years ago, I had my first encounter with lightless bikes.

As I struggled to maneuver into a very tight space, three bicycle riders dressed in black and with no lights, suddenly loomed up behind my car, yelling at me to watch out for them.

“How could I see you?” I shouted. “It’s dark, raining and you have no lights.” They yelled something back, then rode off in a huff.

For me, as a driver, bicycle riders without lights are the single worst obstacle to safe driving in our city. They are a driver’s nightmare.

Lights and helmets should be mandatory

I often wonder why former Mayor Nutter’s administration started putting bike lanes across the city without some commonsense safety regulations for bikers … like requiring lights and helmets.

Don’t get me wrong.  I am glad to see center city attracting so many people. I also think bike riders, pedestrians and cars need to share the road.

But I am appalled at the deadly practice of bikers’ riding at night without lights. And the senseless carnage that results.

I don’t think bike riders realize how hard they are to see in the dark. One article reports that cyclists overestimate their visibility “by a power of 7” when they are wearing fluorescent material.

Far better than a fluorescent jersey, says Rick Tyrrell, a psychology professor at Clemson University, are fluorescent leg coverings. Observers recognized a cyclist three times farther away on average this way, than they did for riders wearing black leggings and a fluorescent jersey.

Better yet: wear lights on your legs, ankles and heels, so you are as conspicuous as possible, day and night.

“Humans are really good at recognizing other humans,” Dr. Tyrrell says in the Wall Street Journal, and pedaling a bike is an obviously human motion.

Startling statistics

  • A Florida safety expert says 60 percent of Florida bike collisions are caused by cyclists riding at night without lights.
  • A Danish yearlong experiment with some 4,000 cyclists found this: riders who used front and rear daytime running lights had 19 percent fewer injury-causing crashes than a control group.
  • New York City says 97 percent of cycling deaths and 87 percent of serious injuries occurred to people not wearing helmets.

So cyclists, please protect yourself. Put lights on the front and back of your bike, put lights on your legs, ankles and heels so you are visible as a cyclist to drivers; and wear a helmet, all the time, every time.

We don’t want to see your life cut short. We want you to enjoy a long and happy life.

Stay safe out there!

Sources: Wall Street Journal, New York Times, ScienceDirect.com and BicycleSafe.com




The number of Americans killed, on average, every day from smoking.


More people die every year from smoking:

Than from murder, AIDS, suicide, drugs, car crashes, and alcohol, combined.


Smoking causes:

Heart disease, emphysema, acute myeloid leukemia, and cancer of the mouth, esophagus, larynx, lung, stomach, kidney, bladder and pancreas. Smoking also causes reduced fertility, low birth weight in newborns and cancer of the cervix.

Source: Ads R. J. Reynolds Tobacco, Philip Morris USA, Altria and Lorillard were ordered to run by a federal court on the health effects of smoking.



A second huge letter-logo joins PSFS above the city

As noted by Danya Henninger at BillyPenn.com, the letters FMC now “glow bright and red” 49 stories above the Schuylkill River at Cira Centre South. FMC originally stood for Food Machinery Corporation. The global chemical and manufacturing conglomerate officially changed its name to FMC Corporation in 1961, says Henninger. The iconic PSFS letters have dominated Philly’s skyline since that building opened in 1932.



RMD: If you are 70 1/2 years of age this year and have not yet taken the Required Minimum Distribution from your IRA, do it by the end of 2017. Otherwise, you could end up paying a significant penalty. As of early November, Fidelity says that about half of its 970,000 IRA customers had not yet made their withdrawals.

Smoke Detectors: Old batteries? Replace them. If you have a live Christmas tree, you especially want working smoke detectors in your house this holiday season.

Photo Credit

“Woman on Bike in front of Cars” flickr photo by kohlmann.sascha https://flickr.com/photos/skohlmann/14728500727 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license


Jim Murphy is a direct marketing copywriter who has run his own consulting business since 2004. For nine years, he wrote and edited “Choices,” an award-winning credit union magazine with a circulation of 80,000. Jim is also a certified member of the Association of Philadelphia Tour Guide and writes historical articles for the Queen Village Neighbors Association magazine.


Any comments made are Jim’s opinion, and not necessarily those of the Old Pine Community Center.





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