The Center City Residents Association sent a letter to the Philadelphia Office of Transportation, Infrastructure and Sustainability on October 4th asking for a new loading zone pilot to be done in conjunction with the Philadelphia Parking Authority’s new bike lane and bus lane infraction officers.

The letter, signed by CCRA President Richard Gross, notes CCRA is interested in a new loading zone pilot specifically because of the PPA pilot that will create a team to ticket drivers who park in bike and bus lanes. Read the letter here. Residents, they note, often park in the bike lane because they feel that’s the only place available.

“We read with interest the Philadelphia Parking Authority’s announcement that it was forming a special, bicycle-mounted unit of enforcement officers. Their mission: Write tickets for motor vehicles parked illegally in bike lanes and bus lanes in Center City and University City,” the letter reads. “It’s worth noting that people parking in this way often don’t see any option, because there are no spaces available in the parking lane.”

To deal with this upcoming issue, CCRA recommends “creating one or two loading zone spaces per block in areas such as Pine and Spruce from Broad Street to 22nd, where there are bike lanes and where the parking lane is almost always at 100 percent occupancy or higher.” The loading spaces would revert to regular spaces at night.

CCRA also notes that a survey was conducted and 83 percent of respondents agreed with the idea.

Loading zones are a good thing, and a no-brainer response to the new PPA pilot. The idea for the new PPA bike officer program was hatched by the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, City Commissioner Al Schmidt, and Deputy City Commissioner Michelle Montalvo, then made public at a PPA board meeting last month. Our goal was to create a new presence in the City of PPA officers, on bikes, who specifically target drivers that block bus and bike lanes, in order to stop those sorts of infractions from happening in the first place.

As anyone who rides a bicycle or bus knows, drivers regularly park in space meant for our vehicles, forcing cyclists to often ride around cars into traffic; and sometimes forcing buses to stop dead in their tracks.

And while this shouldn’t happen in the first place, it does — often by people with good intentions. With that in mind, the Bicycle Coalition worked with Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson a few years ago to create a law that allows for free loading zones on blocks with bike lanes — incentivizing businesses to get new loading zones instead of allowing their customers and deliveries to park in bike and bus lanes.

Loading zones are good.

And with this latest pilot program to allow for bicycle-mounted PPA officers to target bus and bike lanes, it seems registered community organizations, like CCRA, want to do good by their citizenry and create more spaces where they won’t get a hefty fine. Kudos to CCRA for thinking outside the box on this one. We hope the City will allow the pilot program to begin and that it is both successful and replicated.

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