By Sam Klugherz
We know you’ve encountered blocked bike lanes, missing flex posts, or potholes in bike lanes on Philadelphia streets, but have been frustrated by the 311 app’s lack of bicycle or pedestrian related “requests” to choose from. We have been.
In May 2018 we submitted a list of improvements to the Streets Department. Although it’s taken too long, we are pleased to report some limited progress. Our request has resulted in a few changes on the Philly 311 platform and we are continuing to ask for more.
For those unfamiliar with the government service, Philly 311 is a non-emergency hotline and online contact center available for Philadelphia citizens to report issues within the city that require attention by the city government. The service has been available for citizens to report potholes and make requests for things like sweeping and maintenance, and to report illegal dumping, graffiti, and more.
Select the option “Submit a Request” and choose an issue from the list.
Now, when you report a pothole by selecting “Pothole Repair” and indicating where the pothole is on the map (it is strongly recommended to include a picture and provide a description), you can now use the option to indicate if the pothole is within a bike lane.
If you want to report a blocked bike lane, select the issue “Right-of-Way” and for the question “What is being blocked?”, select bike lane. Provide a location on the map and add a photo and description if possible. Additionally, indicate what kind of work is being done that is causing the obstruction. It is now possible to specify that “Utility Work” is the reason for obstruction.
If trash is blocking the bike lane, choose “Illegal Dumping” instead of “Right-of-Way” from the initial list of issues. For this issue, also choose the new “bike lane” option for the question asking if the trash is in the bike lane, street or sidewalk.
New “requests” for reporting other bike-related issues on the app and website platforms are still pending. The Bicycle Coalition has asked the Streets Department and 311 office to add “requests” for:
- abandoned bicycles,
- broken bike racks,
- missing or damaged delineator posts,
- faded stripping,
- blocked bike lane/crosswalk,
- broken sidewalk,
- overgrown right-of-way issues,
- debris in bike lane/sweeping request, and
- bicycle-unfriendly stormwater grates
These requests are not available on the app platform yet, but can be reported by phone by dialing 3-1-1, or via email to Philly311@phila.gov. We will continue to press the City to add them as stand alone requests on the app. In the meantime, it is possible to report these kinds of problems in the “Other” option at the bottom of the list of issues.