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The so-called “awareness cones” littered throughout Philadelphia have become a pretty great joke in the Twitterverse this spring — “a cone placed at the site of damaged or dangerous infrastructure to alert people instead of actually fixing the problem. A Philly special” — and you don’t have to travel far to see cones strategically placed in deep pot holes around the city, invoking that “Do I laugh or cry?” feeling. But over at the Trader Joe’s in Center City, awareness cones are being successfully used for good.

No, really.

Trader Joe’s, the national chain grocery store known for its neighborhood feel and quality “store brand” products, is a really popular destination at its 22nd and Market Street location. So much so, busy days often looked like the below photo, taken by Bicycle Coalition Deputy Director Sarah Clark Stuart.

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Cars pulling into the Trader Joe’s parking lot were regularly blocking the bike lane.

We were alerted by a cyclist who got into a confrontation at the store in January after the bike lane was blocked one too many times without any action from the store or authorities. Cars waiting to get into the oft-crowded TJ’s parking lot would regularly wait in the bike lane so as not to annoy other drivers, but neglecting the cyclists using the lane down 22nd. It was a real problem.

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Another angle: Cars block bike lanes on 22nd Street, making everyone less safe.

We met with Trader Joe’s management, who acknowledged there was a problem. On March 18, members of the Bicycle Coalition then met with Police Captain Convery of the 9th District to let him know about the chronic nature of cars idling in bike lanes on 22nd Street, and the danger this put everyone in.

Convery listened. He alerted the store’s manager in March that if Trader Joe’s didn’t take action and unblock the bike lanes, police would begin ticketing.

And so, Trader Joe’s came to a conclusion: Awareness cones.

Turns out, they’ve been doing the trick, so far. Check out the below photo.

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Awareness cones to the rescue.

Sometimes, turns out you just need a little awareness cone to get motor vehicles to begin behaving better — so thanks Trader Joe’s and the Philly Police for listening here.

That said, we’re going to continue monitoring this intersection to make sure the cones stay in place (cones are likely being put out during TJ’s busiest times: Saturday and Sunday; Monday and Tuesday evenings), and that motor vehicles continue obeying the law. If you see a problem, tweet it using the #unblockbikelanes hashtag, or send it to us via email: bike@bicyclecoalition.org.

Randy LoBasso

Author

Randy LoBasso is the policy manager at the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia.

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