Bicycle Coalition

A mail truck sits in the bike lane next to the new Wawa at 22nd and South Streets

A new Wawa opened at 22nd and South Street earlier this spring and has made the already-deteriorating bike lane go from bad to worse for people commuting into Center City from South Philadelphia.

Every day, consistently, people park their cars in front of the convenience store to run in and grab some of the many treats Wawas are known for: Hoagies, pastries, coffee, candy, assorted goodies.

And since the new convenience store went in, as noticed anecdotally, it seems to be the rule – not the exception – that at least one car is illegally parked in the bike lane out front of the 2200 South Street Wawa, at most hours of the day.

And, despite multiple complaints to Wawa, letters, and calls for the Philadelphia Parking Authority to increase enforcement there, people have continued to park their vehicle in the bike lane — often for just a few minutes, but Wawa has a habit of parking their delivery trucks there, too.

So, it unfortunately came as no surprise how, on July 2, a cyclist was hit on the street due to a motor vehicle parked in the lane.

Elisabeth, a cyclist who lives in South Philadelphia, was in a crash on Monday, and is the first we’ve heard of since the Wawa went in. But, if nothing is done, she will not be the last.

“When your store opened, almost everyday (I take this route 5 days a week), there are cars pulled into the bike lane in front of your store. Some of these cars are delivery trucks, some are typical motorists, maybe stopping at your store, or maybe just taking advantage of a convenient spot to stop in a traffic lane,” she wrote in a letter to Wawa after the crash occurred. “On Monday … I saw two vehicles parked in the bike lane, so I anticipated biking north on 22nd St in the car lane on the right, and cars ready to drive north on 22nd St still had the open car lane on the left.”

What followed was a typical crash — one, like so many others, that could have been avoided if people parking and driving their motor vehicles had adhered to the laws of the road.

“I biked through the South St intersection, and continued biking north on 22nd St, biking in a bright pink helmet- very visible,” she continued. “I passed the first car parked in the bike lane, and was about to pass the second car parked in the bike lane, when an SUV, driving in the lane on my left, cut across in front of me, maybe to pull in the alley, maybe to park in the lane as well, and hit me and my bike on my front tire, pushing me into the parked car, making me lose my balance, and have no point of exit in front of me, as the two cars created no space for me to go forward. I dismounted my bike and brought it up on the sidewalk. In the end I filed a police report and had to have a new wheel put on my bike, as it was bent beyond repair.”

Luckily, Elisabeth wasn’t hurt. Unfortunately, this is the sort of crash that doesn’t need to happen.

While we don’t have the statistics as to how many times the bike lane was reported blocked in June, the Twitter account @ThatsaBikeLane, alone, reported it 23 times in May.

According to PPA data, there were 34 tickets given to vehicles blocking the bike lane at 22nd and South in May.

“Continuing to allow cars to park in bike lanes in front of your store, blocking the lane and forcing vulnerable cyclists into traffic, is egregious, especially when it is solely for the convenience of getting a quick coffee. People are killed all the time by drivers failing to see a cyclist and pulling their car into a body in the bike lane. I wasn’t killed this time- I wasn’t even hurt- I’m just out some money and time. But there is a very easy fix here that Wawa could implement, in order to respect all residents that serve your store and live in this neighborhood.”

We have been in contact with the victim, and a lawyer, and are continuing to monitor and advise the situation. We hope some good can come out of this and Wawa and the city takes more responsibility for this regularly-abused bike lane.

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