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University Police kicked off a new bike safety campaign Friday with a bang -- or rather, a crash. In an effort to raise awareness about the hazards of reckless riding and driving, police officers enacted near-collisions first between bicyclists and pedestrians and later between bicyclists and motorists. The demonstrations were part of a press conference held at the Penn Bookstore to announce a new educational initiative called "Share the Road." The program seeks to educate community members about bicycle-related traffic laws, primarily by distributing informational pamphlets to motorists and cyclists. From now on, any motorist or cyclist found violating a bicycle-related traffic law will be stopped and handed an informational pamphlet. Later this spring, motorists and cyclists violating the same laws will be stopped and awarded citations. Possible infractions include riding bicycles on sidewalks, crowding or driving in bike lanes and several other related violations. Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush said that this initiative is a positive step in ensuring the safety of Penn students. She added that she hoped the educational initiative would allow cyclists and pedestrians to feel safer on the roads and sidewalks. "We've done so much in University City to decrease crime that we want bicyclists and pedestrians to feel safe on the streets," Rush said. University Police Chief Tom Rambo said that although most motorists and cyclists obey the traffic laws, enough of them violate the rules to merit the new program. He added that education is crucial to promoting safety throughout the region. According to many speakers at Friday's press conference, University City is an especially important district for promoting bicycle safety. Bicycle Safety Coalition of Greater Philadelphia President Parker Snowe said that there are more bike trips in University City than in any other area in Philadelphia. The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission reported a total of 173 crashes between cars and bicycles in University City last year. Yet despite these statistics, Andrew Warren, the district administrator for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, encouraged residents to use bicycles whenever possible. He reminded those attending the conference that cycling promotes good health while decreasing pollution. "In such a congested area, bicycles make abundant good sense," Warren said.

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