The Philadelphia Parking Authority and Philadelphia Police Department issued 5440 parking tickets for drivers illegally parked in bike lanes through 2018, according to data given to the Bicycle Coalition by the PPA.
This number represents a 17 percent increase over 2017, and a more than 173 percent increase since the PPA and BCGP began meeting in 2013 to discuss bike lane infractions.
Increase in Ticketing = Good
The news of an increase is good. The numbers below represent a success in our ongoing talks with the PPA. Back in 2013, we began speaking to the Parking Authority about where cyclists are seeing the most infractions, and when. The numbers continue rising along the corridors Philadelphia’s cycling community gave to the PPA.
And as with previous years, we are continuing to see most tickets being handed out on Spruce and Pine Streets in Center City.
Those streets, are Philadelphia cyclists know well, are 10-foot-wide buffered bike lanes and the only river-to-river bike routes in Center City.
Other streets where the PPA and PPD have been handing out tickets include Fairmount Avenue, 22nd Street, and South Street.
Spruce and Pine are, by far, the worst.
Of the 4674 tickets the PPA issued in 2018, 1672 were on Spruce and 1053 were on Pine. That’s more than half.
The PPD issued 764 total bike lane infractions in 2018; 229 were on Spruce and 317 were on Pine. Again: More than half!
In all, Spruce and Pine Streets represent 60 percent of all bike lane infractions.
Why are Spruce and Pine So Bad?
The Spruce and Pine Street bike lanes were installed in 2009 with an agreement with neighbors that they be declared “No Parking” zones—which means you’re allowed to pull your car into the bike lane for up to 20 minutes.
As has been the case in each year we’ve been tracking tickets in bike lanes, these lanes—the most-ridden in Philadelphia—are the most-abused by motorists.
This is proof the deal struck a decade ago has not worked.
Perhaps in good faith, neighbors at the time worried about elderly residents getting out of their cars, or parents unloading children and groceries into their walk-ups.
But that’s not what is happening.
A Convenience Lane
This is not a new problem. It’s just an ongoing problem that is not being dealt with. A plan to move the bike lane from the right side of the street to the left side and protect both streets’ intersections was passed in City Council in the spring.
The re-engineering will likely help cut down on right-angle crashes (the most common type of crash on these streets), as long as every intersection is actually protected, between Society Hill and Western Center City.
We actually made a video about this very issue at the end of 2018. Watch it below.
Many businesses, like FedEx and UPS, have built the ticketing into their business model, making the tickets their drivers receive, essentially, meaningless.
The increase in ticketing, to be clear, is welcome. The fear of a $40 ticket is likely keeping some motorists from pulling over in the bike lane and putting a cyclist’s life at risk. But it’s not enough of a deterrent.
Ticketing does not stop all motorists from breaking the law, and it only takes one illegally-parked vehicle, stopped in someone else’s right of way, to injure someone.