Bicycle Coalition

City Council’s Streets and Services Committee passed legislation last week which would waive the loading zone fee for businesses on streets with bike lanes, an idea the Bicycle Coalition believes could help free up bike lanes from illegally-parked commercial and private motor vehicles.

As we noted when we first introduced this idea in October 2018, using bike lanes to load and drop off passengers has become commonplace. We believe by making it easier for businesses to install loading zones, more drivers will use those loading zones for pick up, drop off, and loading.

Loading zone applicants must pay $250 per 23 feet of space, or $500 per meter removal in University City or Center City; or, $150 per 23 feet of space or $300 per meter removal, in all other areas of the city. Businesses must additionally pay $150 per year in Center City and University City, or $75 in all other areas of the city.

The Bicycle Coalition has proposed the PPA should create a new policy in which businesses adjacent to bike lanes (either next to, or across the street from) are waived the loading zone installation fee, to more easily allow the establishment of loading zones in business districts and help keep delivery vehicles out of bicyclists’ right of way.

While many drivers seem to intentionally ignore legal parking spaces for painted bike lanes in order to get a little closer to the place they’re supposed to drop off or pick up, many have also complained that there’s nowhere to park.

These companies are being fined heavily, and the PPA has actually upped its ticketing for vehicles in bike lanes by 177 percent since the BCGP and PPA began our Unblock Bike Lanes campaign. Unfortunately, issuing more tickets hasn’t changed motorists’ behavior. Bike lanes on Spruce, Pine, 13th and 22nd are still the most blocked bike lanes, according to statistics provided by the PPA.

We believe this legislation, introduced by Councilperson Kenyatta Johnson, could, then, help change motorist behavior two-fold.

First off, giving commercial and private drivers somewhere to load and unload on streets with bike lanes—that aren’t the actual bike lanes—will help free up spaces for Philadelphia’s cyclists trying to get to wherever they need to go.

Second, the money the PPA could potentially lose from this bill should force the city and PPA to increase fines on motorists who park illegally, which is something the PPA has wanted to do for a long time.

We believe this latter point is particularly important because the PPA is required to give a portion of its revenue to the Philadelphia Public School District. It’s important the School District does not lose any money because of this ordinance.

The Bicycle Coalition is holding a meeting later this month with some stakeholders to discuss how to continue moving this legislation forward and keep it revenue neutral.

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