Tickets for Vehicles in Bike Lanes Up 17 Percent


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.

Philadelphia bike lane tickets

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.

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Topics: Biking in Philly, Featured, Vision Zero

5 comments on “Tickets for Vehicles in Bike Lanes Up 17 Percent

  1. Kevin Linehan

    There was no mention of church and temple goers parking their cars in the Pine and Spruce St. bike lanes every weekend. Bicycles are forced into traffic for several blocks at a time.

  2. Suzanne Hagner

    I noticed less cars parked in bike lanes when I rode out of downtown yesterday…now I know why…wonderful…

  3. Carol

    What can I do to get someone ticketed if their car is parked in a bike lane?

  4. Paul di Francesco

    Just so I’m clear on this, you’re implying that any vehicle is allowed 20 minutes before being ticketed in the bike lanes?
    Thanks for your great work!

  5. Randy LoBasso

    Paul: Yes, but not everywhere — just on certain blocks of Spruce and Pine Streets. A deal was made in 2009 between the city and neighbors to allow for the bike lanes to be designated “No Parking” zones, which allows pick-up/drop off.

    Carol: You can call the PPA’s hotline, or the police whenever you see a car in the bike lane. (215) 683-9775

    Kevin: Yes, I did not mention religious services here. Allowing for parking on both sides of the street, during certain hours on Saturdays and Sundays, was part of the aforementioned deal the city struck with the neighbors a decade ago. That deal, like the deal to allow for “unloading,” has failed. Vehicles are parked in the bike lane at all hours on weekends — before and after services; many people coming into the city who don’t know about the “agreement” often just pull over and park all day. It’s part of a Philly “tradition” that needs to end if the city is serious about Vision Zero and the general safety of its residents (not to mention the lost funds by not ticketing illegally parked cars, some of which goes to the School District). We hope the city can come to an agreement for parking either in the numerous garages in the area, or on other streets (like Lombard, or the numbered streets) instead of Spruce/Pine.

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