Bike lane ticketing soaring in Philly

In a story that ran earlier this week a Pine Street resident complained about having been issued a ticket because she parked in the bike lane in front of her home. According to some data pulled together by the Philadelphia Parking Authority and blogged about by the Bicycle Coalition of Philadelphia last week, the odds of just that happening are going way up in Philadelphia. 

According to the PPA data, the authority issued 4,524 tickets for bike lane-related violations in 2016. That's five percent more than the previous year, 4,302, and 127 percent more than in 2014, when 1,991 were issued. 

Pine Street, which the Bicycle Coalition describes as one of the major bike thoroughfares in Center City, saw 1,408 issued between the 300 and 2100 blocks in 2016, almost exactly the same number issued in 2015. Spruce Street, another Center City route, saw more than 2,000 violations issued between 10th Street and 23rd Street last year, according to the PPA data, again very similar to the year before. Clearly the vast majority of bike lane violations that are being issued in Philadelphia are happening on these two streets.

The violation numbers reflect the PPA's responsiveness to complaints from bikers about cars in bike lanes, which the authority responds to quickly, said Martin O'Rourke, the agency spokesman. Ticketers will also cite vehicles in bike lanes while patroling for parking violations, he said. 

The Bicycle Coalition is taking these numbers as evidence that these two roads are begging for protected bike lanes, which would place physical dividers between bike lanes and vehicle traffic. There are a lot of different ways to accomplish this, but some would make it impossible to park in a bike lane.

"These streets are supposed to be the best routes for cyclists getting through Center City," the blog, wrtitten by Randy LoBasso, the coalition's spokesman, stated. "But given a lack of physical separation between the motor vehicle lane and the bike lane, people in motor vehicles seem intent on parking wherever they please, putting cyclists’ lives in danger on an hourly basis."