Bike lane battle brewing in South Philadelphia over eliminated parking spaces

Friday, August 23, 2019
Bike lane battle brewing in South Philly over eliminated parking spaces
Bike lane battle brewing in South Philly over eliminated parking spaces. George Solis has more on Action News at 11 p.m. on August 22, 2019.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A bike lane battle is brewing in South Philadelphia.

Longtime residents say a new protected bike lane on 11th Street spanning from Bainbridge to Reed streets has made it more difficult to find parking. It's a point of contention for many who say parking in South Philadelphia is already notoriously bad.

(UPDATE: Those residents told Action News on Thursday night that the bike lane resulted in the elimination of a little more than a hundred parking spaces. On Friday, Action News spoke with Kelley Yemen, the Director of Complete Streets under The Office Transportation, Infrastructure, and Sustainability, who says the actual number is between 18 to 24 spots. )

"Look at all this space they are taking away right here," said resident Pat Scerati, who illustrated the painted buffer at various intersections down the stretch of road.

"You buy a permit to park on your block but you can't park on your block cause there's no parking spot. Can't park here, can't park there," said resident Carla Range.

While many admit they knew the bike lane project was happening, some claim they were never told just how much space they would be losing.

"Sometimes things were the way they were because we knew what was safe and what wasn't safe," said resident Colleen Krakauskas.

Some residents, like Joseph Innaurato, say they plan on taking their complainants right to the mayor's office.

"I want to ask him, to let him tell me, where do you park?!" said Innaurato.

While the majority of residents say their issue isn't with cyclists or the bike lane itself, it's the buffers at each intersection that seem to draw the most anger.

"Why would this spot be blocked off?" asked Toni DeJesse.

The short answer, city officials say, is safety for both cyclists and those on foot.

"We have a lot of vulnerable folks who have to cross this very wide street and this improvement made it a whole lot safer for them," said Andrew Stober with the Passyunk Square Civic Association.

Stober said some of the changes also meant narrowing the road from three lanes to two and adding buffers to improve overall visibility.

"They've given a little up so everyone can be a whole lot safer," he said.

Residents say they plan on fighting to restore the road to its original state or at least petition to at least change the road into a one-way street.