Friday, September 5, 2014

Protect and Serve

When it comes to the #unblockbikelanes and the Philadelphia Police Department they have a unique relationship. There is the WaWa at 22nd St. & Lombard where the bike lane is treated as an active loading zone, which encourages civilians to park in the bike lane as well. At 13th St. & Arch you can expect the bike lane to be blocked by six police cars on a daily basis, due to its proximity to the courthouse. This one is particularly frustrating as there is a gated lot for police parking on one side of the street and a public parking garage on the other.

Over the Labor Day weekend the Philadelphia Police Department had to add insult to injury at the bike lane on Spruce St. between 38th & 39th. Traffic cones were placed along Spruce St. between 38th and 39th, creating a buffered bike lane. To keep people from using the bike lane as quick parking for the WaWa and other restaurants on that block. This didn’t stop the PPD from repeatedly parking in the lane to block access to it, as confirmed by this Twitter thread.


Now I get it, on duty police officers need their breaks and an opportunity to eat just like everyone else. They also need to stay close to to their vehicles, but to deliberately block a buffered bike lane means a cyclist can’t go around the offending vehicle and get back into the bike lane. They have to ride the length of the street putting themselves at risk and impeding the flow of traffic.

So what is the solution? I don’t think the the PPD will have the same sense of humor as the Philadelphia Parking Authority did when Kid Hazo ticketed one of their vehicles.


Even some kind of polite form letter may not work, people get very touchy when you a lay a finger on their car. Its really going to take a change of the internal culture of the PPD. A good start would be with buffered bike lanes and 13th St. & Arch.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Ferdinand needs dental heros

A few years ago a litter of kittens turned up on the doorstep of Bilenky Cycle Works all of them were adopted except for one who was named Ferdinand and became the resident Shop Cat. From a little kitten Ferdinand has grown up to the size of small dog. He has taken on many roles at Bilenky Cycle Works since his first days as Shop Cat. 

Office Manager

 
Stress Management Consultant
And just how big is Ferdinand?

Ferdinand needs your help. He needs immediate dental surgery as his long term survival may be at risk. Whether you are a cat lover or have enjoyed the Bilenky Junkyard Cross. Donate what you can afford, because every little bit helps


To donate use this link - http://www.gofundme.com/dqnen0

Monday, August 18, 2014

I told you so

In more than one post I have taken issue with with the deal the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia made with the Philadelphia City Council for the Safe Streets Bill. Which gave the Philadelphia City Council final approval on all new bike lanes, if they affected parking or traffic lanes. I’m sure the BCGP tried to rationalize this decision by thinking that they would be able to find reasonable accommodation. In the event the City Council tried to use their new political tool.


Now it looks like that choice has come back to haunt them. In this case it involves extending  the 22nd St bike lane. As part of Philadelphia’s 2012 Bike/Pedestrian plan this stretch of road was to be redeveloped to include a bike lane. Currently a five block section of 22nd St between Spring Garden and Fairmount is being resurfaced and new lane markers will be put in.


But that it not going to happen and if you cut through all of the doublespeak in the BCGP’s blog post it all boils down to one thing. City Councilman Bill Greenlee claims that there is community opposition to the bike lane and thus the City Council will shut down any development of the 22nd St bike lane extension. The BCGP will need to demonstrate that there is overwhelming support for the bike lane from the residents and business owners along this five block stretch. Even then I remain skeptical as Bill Greenlee will merely call in enough favors to make the process as difficult as possible. As he is the architect of the bill that gave City Council control over all future bicycle lanes.


While the BCGP might be able to marshal its resources this time to overcome the resistance of the Philadelphia City Council. What about the next time? Bicycle lanes in Philadelphia was part of the BCGP’s long term goals. Once achieved, the BCGP negotiated final decision making out of the hands of trained professionals, including Traffic Engineers. Into the hands of irrational professional politicians, all in the name of the Safe Streets Bill. I cringe to think what the BCGP will do to complete “The Circuit”.

The BCGP says that this is “an unfortunate complication”. I believe that this will be the first of many unfortunate complications to come. How many more sacrifices will Philadelphia cyclists have to make at the expense of the BCGP’s long term goals?

Thursday, July 31, 2014

#findourbikes

On the Philadelphia Stolen Bikes Facebook page a Twitter campaign of #findourbikes has been suggested. Any person who has their bicycle stolen in Philadelphia would tweet an image of the bike, with a description of the bike, and the location where it was stolen.


This would be an alternative to the traditional street protest. Imagine once month people who had their bikes stolen in Philadelphia stood outside Philadelphia Police Headquarters at 720 Race St for five minutes in a silent protest. In time its going to draw media attention and will be hard to ignore. In today's society social media can act as a global driver towards the resolution of many issues. Wth media, business, government, and individuals tweeting and reading tweets. It would be a matter of time and patience before the #findourbikes could become a force for positive change.


In 2012 the reported number of bike thefts in Philadelphia was 162 bikes per month. If you factor in the number unreported thefts, in my opinion, the number would be three or four times higher. I realize that Philadelphia has a very high rate of violent crime and murder and the police have only a certain amount of resources to go around. Perhaps if there were periodic sweeps to deal with quality of life crimes. We might find that some of the more serious problems will become easier to deal with.


In the meantime tweet your stolen bikes to #findourbikes @PhillyPolice.

Monday, July 21, 2014

#unblockbikelanes is working

Since the creation of the #unblockbikelanes hashtag by the Philadelphia Parking Authority I have been highly skeptical that the PPA was going to follow through on ticketing cars parked in bike lanes. Lets face it the PPA twitter responses of “we’ve added it to our list” does not give you the impression that they are doing anything.


So I did some research, the PPA has risen to the challenge and is taking enforcement of cars parked in bike lanes seriously.
Total number of tickets issued
April, May, & June 2013 - 242
April, May, & June 2014 - 475
This is a 96% increase over the past year.


With the largest increase in tickets at three locations.


Street
2013 Tickets
2014 Tickets
Percentage increase
Spruce St. 1400 - 2300
127
252
98%
Pine St. 300 - 2100
62
91
46%
N. 13th St. 99-100
3
63
2000%
Total
192
406
111%

This is a good start, one that I hope will continue to be growing trend. There are some larger issues that will take time as it is going to involve a change in culture and tradition. The two most challenging will be churches that use bike lanes as parking on Sundays, especially the ones that have made arrangements with commercial parking lots. Or the issue police officers using the bike lane at 13th St by the court house.


I would like to suggest that the Philadelphia Police something to try during one its annual bicycle enforcement sweeps. A bike lane liberation ride hosted by a Bicycle Clown Brigade, as inspired by New York City’s Times Up. A fun, non-threatening piece of street theater that could be created by local cyclists. Along with a police escort to encourage recalcitrant car drivers to move their vehicle and a PPA agent to ticket unoccupied cars.