An Open Letter to Drivers Who Double-Park in Bike Lanes: Why?

Or: Dear Drivers, Can You Not?

When it comes to spending my time on a bike in Philly, the street with a bike lane that I spend the most time on is Spring Garden Street. And yes, having a bike lane that can take me from the Delaware River basically all the way to the Schuylkill River Trail is awesome with a capital A. But the awesomeness of my rides along Spring Garden Street are never — never — not interrupted by at least one car (that’s on a good day; it’s usually more like four or five) double-parked in the bike lane. And every single time this happens, I ask the same question: WHY?

Why, dear driver, did you feel the need to double-park in the bike lane when there is a perfectly large, easy-to-pull-into — and, maybe most importantly, legal — parking spot just three cars down from where you are stopped? WHY? Why, dear driver, do you think it’s okay to park your vehicle in a lane that is specifically designed for an entirely different mode of transportation?

What would you think, driver, if I were to decide, as I was biking along the stretch of Spring Garden in between 17th and 18th Streets, to pedal into the drivers’ lane and park my bike smack-dab in the middle of it, forcing cars to stop dead in their tracks or swerve into the other lane to go around me? Wait, don’t answer that: I already know what you’d think. At best, you’d think I am an incredibly rude, inconsiderate person. And at worst, you’d think I am a crazy person looking to cause an accident. Right? Right.

Technically, according to the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, cars are allowed to unload people and goods in the bike lane if the bike lane is adjacent to the curb, like on Spruce Street or Pine Street. Not that this is not annoying to cyclists. It is. But you can stop your car there for hot second. But when it comes to bike lanes that are adjacent to cars, blocking the lane is just plain ol’ illegal.

Cyclists in Toronto started a movement of slapping scolding stickers onto cars that parked in bike lanes. In lieu of a sticker maker, I just say maybe ask yourself before the next time you double-park in a bike lane: Why am I double-parking here? And if the answer is simply, “Because it’s easy — duh,” maybe don’t?

A Fellow Driver Who Also Rides a Bike

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