Sunday, May 15, 2011

When is a bike lane not a bike lane?

When its in Philadelphia.

In the last few years the city of Philadelphia has created and expanded a network of bicycle lanes that allow cyclists to travel throughout Philadelphia. A great benefit to many of the residents of the city who need an alternative to the cost of owning a car and may want to save money and time by not having to depend solely on SEPTA.

However there remains one glaring problem, lack of enforcement when someone uses them as a parking space. Other cities that have put in the effort to create this type of infrastructure have also made sure that bicycle lanes are treated as a lane of traffic, so if you park in one you can get ticketed. Unfortunately in Philadelphia that is not the case and with no protection bicycle lanes have become parking spots and loading zones.

I can be sympathetic to companies like UPS who are only making temporary stops. While ridding along the Spruce and Pine St. bicycle lanes it's hard to have any sympathy for someone who parked there car a bicycle lane and walked away from it. One of the worst examples of this occurred in December 2010 when a two way, contra flow lane was opened at 30th St. between Walnut and Market. Which was immediately filled with a collection of vehicles using it for parking; including police cars, delivery vehicles, contractors, and several lunch trucks. Of course a picture is worth a thousand words and this link to a Flicker account will show just how egregious this is.

It's time for the city of Philadelphia to close this loop hole by updating its traffic laws so bike lanes have equal protection under the law. As long as this practice occurs cyclists will be forced out into the street, abruptly, placing them at risk of getting hit. While leaving drivers under the impression that we can't stay in our lane.

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