The protected bike lane on Market Street

Updated July 12

Bike lanes are one of Philly’s most contentious transit issues. These strips of roadway dedicated to cyclists have caused a stir ever since they became popular in the city.

Bicyclists say they need bike lanes to get from point A to point B safely. Meanwhile, motorists often ignore the lanes, and stop to unload in their path. Even cops do it.

Recently, cyclists have scored a few victories. In March, the city installed temporary protected bike lanes on Market Street and JFK Boulevard. And the Philadelphia Parking Authority, alongside Philly Police, has promised to be more vigilant in ticketing the cars that park in lanes across the city.

Over the last few years, violations for vehicles in the bike lane have slowly increased.

In 2014, ticketed violations were low. In 2015, the number of tickets issued shot up to more than 10 times that many. In 2016, the violation number reached a peak. That trend continued in 2017.

It’s unclear whether these increases are due to more wrongdoing worthy of being ticketed, or changes in enforcement on behalf of the PPA and the PPD. But no matter the total number of tickets, there were constant trends: Spruce and Pine streets often raked in the most tickets, while cars along Fairmount Avenue evaded violations.

Per the Bicycle Coalition, the rate of bike lane tickets looks to be higher than in 2017, so far. Where is this wrongdoing/enforcement happening?

We broke down the violations dished out from January to May 2018.

By the numbers, the most ticketed bike lane is absolutely, unequivocally Pine Street. The PPA alone issued more than 400 violations there in five months.

Spruce Street is a close runner-up, snagging more than 300 violations from the PPA in just one section of the street, and then another 250 just a few blocks away.

But perhaps these raw numbers don’t tell the full story.

Sure, motorists on Pine Street received a ton of bike lane violations — but that’s in part because the lane stretches along so much of that particular strip. The numbers submitted from PPA cover 18 blocks of Pine Street, while dealing with just single blocks of several other streets.

When you look at the block-to-ticket ratio, North 13th Street takes the cake. In just one block there, the PPA issued almost as many as it did in five blocks on Spruce Street.

Which street had the least violations? There’s a clear winner.

At 25th and Fairmount, there were literally zero violations for blocking the bike lane — both from the PPA and the PPD.

But shift one block to 24th and Fairmount, and PPA totals 33. (Still zero from PPD.)

Meanwhile in West Philly, Market street is doing pretty well, and Poplar too.

Michaela Winberg is a general assignment reporter at Billy Penn. She covers LGBTQ people and culture, public spaces, and transportation and mobility. She also sometimes produces radio and web features...