In addition to advocating for a connected bike lane network and better policies around bicycling and pedestrian issues in Philadelphia, we have often joined with Bicycle Crash Lawyer Stuart Leon to organize lawsuits on behalf of Philadelphia cyclists whose rights are violated by their right of way being illegally blocked.
The latest: On Thursday, a judge allowed a lawsuit against Good Foodie USA, the parent company of Julius Silvert, and the Philadelphia Parking Authority, to proceed.
This suit was nearly a year in the making, and largely based on the 13th Street bike lane being perpetually blocked by a Julius Silvert food delivery truck during the morning rush hour.
Filed on behalf of Philadelphia resident Oren Eisenberg, the suit seeks to prevent the company’s ongoing conduct, blocking cyclists, people in wheelchairs, and other people who use the bike lane, from safely passing through on 13th Street. In addition to Eisenberg’s documentation of the blocked bike lane, dozens of Philadelphia cyclists responded, last year, to requests for additional photo and video of this bike lane blocked, in order to establish that this is an ongoing problem.
“It’s not just that Julius Silvert is parking in the bike lane regularly,” said Eisenberg. “They’re doing so during rush hour, on one of the most-bike-ridden streets in Philadelphia. And despite the protests of hundreds of people who use that lane, their driver has refused to use any other space to unload, including the adjacent street.”
The suit additionally makes the case that the Philadelphia Parking Authority has essentially rented out the bike lane to a private business for a small fee, while ignoring the rights of people who use the public street to get to and from their destinations.
Yet again multiple delivery vehicles illegally commandeering the 13th St bike lane for private business. @PhilaParking I called the enforcement hotline and nobody picked up. #bikephl pic.twitter.com/jIFvqeUHgd
— Oren Roth-Eisenberg (@orentalks) June 27, 2019
Immediately after filing a lawsuit against Good Foodie USA, cyclists noticed the Julius Silvert trucked on Sansom Street, in a loading zone, rather than the bike lane on 13th Street.
However, after a brief period, that ended and the driver has continued to block the bike lane, which is used regularly by thousands of people on bikes, other mobility devices, and people with disabilities.
Good Foodie had tried to get the case thrown out, claiming this was an issue just for City government. But the judge sided with Leon and ruled that the case can continue against the company. “We can demand information, documents, and take testimony from the people who run Julius Silvert to find out what is going on over there and why their drivers use the lanes as their own personal loading/staging docks/zones,” Leon said on Thursday. “I look forward to digging deeper to learn more about the corporate culture that creates this kind of selfish and dangerous use of the public bike lanes.”
This is a great thing for Philadelphia’s cyclists, and it should additionally be noted that the city has a Council-approved plan to protect the 13th Street bike lane in 2020, and add more loading zones.