By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Bicycle advocates and the auto advocacy agency AAA hope that sweeping revisions to the City of Philadelphia’s traffic code, approved today by a City Council committee, will improve the often-difficult interactions between drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians in the city.

The committee approved some substantive changes to the traffic code in light of a big uptick in bicycle use in Philadelphia that is testing the patience of drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists alike (see previous story).

Alex Doty, head of the Greater Philadelphia Bicycle Coalition, supports the changes.

“We’ve seen in the last five years a doubling of bicyclists, and we had seen a doubling of bicyclists in the five years before that.  So, these steady increases mean that we need to find a way for all of us to be able to coexist on our streets.”

The changes include setting the penalty for bicycling on the sidewalk at a hefty $75.  It also clarifies the state penalties for “dooring,” which is when a driver opens his door just as a bicyclist is passing by.

“Riding on the sidewalk is a scourge,” says Doty, “and is something that annoys all of us.  There are a number of ways we can address that, and one way is making the streets safer for bicyclists.  And this bill is an important part of how we do that going into the future.”

Final approval by the full City Council is expected by month’s end, and the mayor supports the changes as well.