A Philadelphia man is suing a delivery company and PPA for blocking bike lanes

Cars and trucks parked in the bike lanes on Spruce and Pine streets force cyclists to take risky dodges into traffic.

Cars regularly stop in Philadelphia's bike lanes that aren't "protected" by delineator posts. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

A Philadelphia man is suing a commercial delivery company for repeatedly parking in a Center City bike lane. The lawsuit, given the green light to proceed in court by a Philadelphia judge, also takes aim at the Philadelphia Parking Authority for failing to enforce regulations prohibiting parking in the bike lane. 

The suit alleges that delivery trucks operated by Julius Silvert regularly block a bike lane at 13th and Sansom streets, forcing bicyclist Oren Eisenberg of Fishtown and others into automobile traffic, “placing them at great risk of serious injury or death.”  

The trucks use the city-designated lanes as a “staging and delivery zone,” the suit claims.

“I’ve personally watched them do this in the bike for as long as or exceeding 50 minutes,” said lawyer Stuart Leon, who filed the suit earlier this year and celebrated the decision by Judge Edward Wright of the Court of Common Pleas to let it go forward.

 “This company is on notice that they are creating a dangerous situation for bike riders and they refuse to do anything about it that we can see,” Leon said.

The suit also names PPA for failure to enforce city laws.  “PPA’s failure to ticket commercial vehicles” for blocking bike lanes makes the thruways useless, the case charges. The lawsuit demands the authority step up enforcement before someone gets hurt or worse. 

Eisenberg wants the truck company to stop “illegally parking and/or standing their vehicles in city bike lanes.” 

“It’s not a money lawsuit,” said Leon. “The goal is to stop this activity.”

PPA declined to comment on Thursday. Julius Silvert could not be reached before publication. 

Data from the Bicycle Coalition shows Philadelphia has more bicycle commuters than any other large U.S. city and more than 200 miles of bike lanes. But complaints of drivers misusing the lanes continues to draw ire from the city’s cyclists. 

This isn’t the first time Leon used his legal expertise on 13th Street. 

Last August, Leon represented Kyle Leach in a lawsuit against Marriott International. The valet parking operation for their Fairfield Marriott Hotel located a few blocks south of Eisenberg’s obstruction at Spruce Street also blocked the bike lane for hotel visitors. 

However, Leon and the hotel’s parking operator reached an agreement to install posts in front of the hotel to detract vehicles from blocking the bike lane. 

The trial is scheduled for June 2020. In the meantime, Leon explained, they’ll conduct background research for the case and cross-examine the truck company about their delivery practices. 

“Our goal is for there to be a change in the behavior of delivery trucks in Philadelphia,” said Leon. 

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.