The corner of 13th and Spruce in Philadelphia has not been kind to cyclists lately. For starters, construction recently began on a new Marriott on the corner, replacing a formerly empty Parker Hotel. And for bicyclists riding north on 13th Street, the buffered bike lane has been almost completely blocked where the construction is happening. Pedestrians and bicyclists are given a heads up with two small signs: One reading “Bike lane closed”; the other reading “Sidewalk closed.”
And then there’s this: The company doing the building is using non-union labor, and members of local building unions have taken to the street, picketing against the project.
Normally, this is fine. We respect the right of anyone to assemble and practice their First Amendment.
But in this case, the union brought one of their gigantic rats to showcase their displeasure with the company in charge of the project. And if one blocked bike lane wasn’t bad enough, the protest inflatable rat was blocking the Spruce lane on Monday and Tuesday.
Well, after a couple days of this, it ended—today. We checked out the site earlier today and the union members had moved the rat across the street, putting it on the adjacent sidewalk, in between a newspaper box and a street sign, with enough room for pedestrians to get by. The people there were extremely agreeable and understood our problem with the rat’s placement.
Next up: We’re speaking with people in the city about the 13th Street lane. The shared use construction permit is valid through May, and this is not OK. We’ll update our readers here as the situation develops.