South Philadelphia resident and Temple student Travis Southard does not spend his commute in a car, but on a bicycle.
As one of the ten most populated cities, Philadelphia has the highest percentage of people cycling to work. Last March, Philadelphia ranked fifth among large American cities for total bike lane miles, and fourth in bike lane miles per square mile.
Despite these rankings, Southard says the city has its fair share of problems with the bike lanes. “I keep hearing from [city officials] we have such great bike infrastructure and it’s so safe. Great. If you feel that way, come take a ride with me because I have some notes.”
Southard often finds vehicles blocking the bike lanes, making travel less safe. He, among other cyclists, are forced to drift to the city streets in the face of opposing traffic.
Even when the bike lanes aren’t blocked, Southard says the conditions of many of them are far from top quality. “Some of them are faded and don’t get re-striped as often as they should,” says Southard.
Just last year, more than 700 cyclists faced death on the streets of U.S. cities. This statistic has cyclists like Southard demanding local politicians to do more to keep lanes safe.
Whenever Southard sees a bike lane violation by a car, he takes a picture and Tweets it at the Philadelphia Parking Authority using the hashtag “#unblockbikelanes.”
The PPA strongly encourages this act. In a blog post, the PPA says it will watch for the hashtag to “identify chronic problem areas throughout the city and make plans for the future.”