Philadelphia Parking Authority to Test Bike Patrol Unit to Counter Parking Violators


The Philadelphia Parking Authority plans to create a team of officers who will patrol the city on bikes, issuing tickets to drivers who violate parking restrictions in dedicated bike and bus lanes. But first, the agency wants to test the program.

At a board meeting on Tuesday, PPA officials announced the creation of a six-person bicycle patrol unit – five officers and a supervisor – that will cover the area stretching from Delaware Avenue to 40th Street and from Spring Garden to Bainbridge Street. According to one submission, the unit will patrol the area for a year on a trial basis, at which point the PPA said it would assess the program to determine if the expansion is warranted.

PPA spokesman Marty O’Rourke said it will take “a few months – certainly by the end of the year for this enforcement program to be operational.” If the PPA decides to go ahead with a large-scale operation, the unit will expand to 35 officers and three supervisors, and it will cover the city’s 430 miles of cycle paths.

For the full patrol unit to be operational, the PPA said it will need to negotiate with the leadership of District Council 33 – the city’s blue-collar union – to create a new bike patrol officer position. and a new rate of pay. The presentation at Tuesday’s meeting states that those wishing to join the unit must have at least one year of experience as a parking enforcement officer. They must also complete a three-day training course offered by the University of Penn Police and pass a physical exam.

The PPA has estimated some of the expenses associated with this unit: the bikes will cost between $ 1,500 and $ 2,000; uniforms will be $ 750 per employee; bicycle helmets will cost $ 150 each; and another would be $ 2,000 budgeted for bicycle maintenance and the creation of a parts inventory for repairs.

The PPA typically issues 60,000 bus lane violations per year. With the COVID-19 pandemic keeping more people at home, the authority said the number of bus lane violations increased from 43,767 in 2019 to 28,637 in 2020. In the past, the PPA To in partnership with the Philadelphia Police Department and SEPTA to crack down on vehicles stopped in bus lanes along busy streets, which can disrupt travel times for everyone.

“It’s difficult for anyone who rides a bike, or just takes a ride, to get anywhere without having to bypass at least one parked car on the bike path,” said Randy LoBasso, policy director for the Greater Philadelphia Cycling Coalition. “Better ticketing for those motorists who violate the parking and idling right-of-way law will hopefully help reduce this kind of behavior by motorists.”

According to LoBasso, Philly will become one of the few cities where cycle lane violations are enforced by bicycle officers once the ASF program is launched. The concept stems from a Toronto parking control officer. In 2017, the avid cyclist cycled the streets to specifically target cars parked in bike lanes, and the program was so successful that the Toronto Police Department expanded it.

“We hope this pilot will be successful and intend to work with the PPA to ensure it is,” LoBasso said. “And with more and more Philadelphians choosing to ride bikes, scooters, and other micro-mobility devices, there’s no time like the present to begin.”

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