The Philadelphia Parking Authority announced on Tuesday a new pilot program of bicycle-riding officers to target motorists illegally parked in bike and bus lanes — a program for which the Bicycle Coalition has long been advocating.
The program is a commitment to staffing up the Quality of Life Enforcement unit by adding new bike patrol officers who will specifically ticket blocked bike and bus lanes — problems that Philadelphians are well aware of.
As announced at Tuesday’s meeting, the pilot program will take place between Delaware Avenue and 40th Street, Spring Garden and Bainbridge, and be limited to five officers for the time being, with the understanding that it would likely take 35 officers to cover the entire city.
Getting officers on bikes to patrol bike and bus lanes not only would make the enforcement of these dangerous blockages more efficient, but it would cut down on enforcement by armed officers.
This is an idea the Bicycle Coalition has been working on for several years. It is partially based on a program that already exists in Toronto. Beginning in 2017, Toronto “bike lane guardian” Kyle Ashley began ticketing motorists parked illegally in bike lanes from the reality of getting around a city on two wheels.
After a successful campaign by Ashley, the Toronto Police Department expanded the bike parking team. The team engaged audiences on social media and, in addition to saving lives on the streets, became a positive force on the Interwebs.
Today’s announcement by the PPA makes Philadelphia one of just a handful of cities where bike lane enforcement is being conducted specifically by officers on bicycles — a problem that has persisted in Philadelphia, where it’s hard for anyone commuting by bike, or just on a ride, to get anywhere without having to swerve around at least one parked car in the bike lane.