Slog, I stand corrected. Back in May, I was cycling along 12th Avenue and found the bike lane blocked by a delivery truck. I wrote that this is why we need more protected bike lanes—also known as cycle tracks—like the one on Broadway on Capitol Hill. A cycle track, I wrote, "doesn't have this problem" of people parking in it and forcing bicycles to merge in and out of car traffic.
Slog tipper Dan Simmonds, however, ran into that exact problem last week, and he's got photos to prove it—including one that shows a truck parking right next to a sign showing drivers how not to park on the Broadway cycle track:
- Dan Simmonds
- Dan Simmonds
"I'm a bike commuter and I regularly see vehicles blocking the cool cycle lane along Broadway in Capitol Hill," Simmonds wrote. "I got some pictures and tried to report the violation, but the police are only interested if the violation is currently happening. I tried to locate the driver's company online, but couldn't find them... The driver caught me taking these and got very defensive about it, insisting it was legal to park there."
Simmonds said he followed SPD spokesperson Patrick Michaud's advice from an October post I wrote about yet more bike lane blockages, by calling SPD's non-emergency line. He did so at around 11 a.m. on January 8, about two hours after passing the truck. "They said that I needed to report traffic violations when I saw them, not after the fact," Simmonds told me. "I told them that I had photographic evidence, and they said they were not interested in that."
Incidentally, on Friday morning, I myself considered calling police about a semi-truck blocking the 12th Avenue bike lane during my commute. In retrospect, I wish I had. But I needed to get to work on time. So instead of pulling onto the sidewalk and whipping out my phone, I chose to bike around it and keep going.
- Ansel Herz
About 45 minutes later, I passed by the truck again. This time, I stopped to take a photo and asked the men why they were blocking the lane. One of them said he had no other option but to park there.
Still, I didn't call it in and headed back to the office. Time is money, ya know?
But I should have called it in. SPD's Michaud says police have to be there to witness the violation themselves. They may have to swear under oath about the violation, and cannot issue a citation based on photos. "That sucks," he says, frankly, "but that's the nature of it."
When Michaud sees vehicles blocking bike lanes, he says he actually calls 911 immediately, instead of looking up the non-emergency line. And that's okay for anyone to do. "Don't worry about it," he says. "Just call 911. We can bounce it back to the non-emergency number."
If it's during parking enforcement hours, they'll send out one of the parking enforcement officers who are buzzing around instead of a patrol car. "They love that one," Michaud says, chuckling. "It's so easy to write." (SPD's going to get back to me next week with the numbers on how many citations for bike lane blockages are being issued these days.)
Bottom line? CALL IT IN IMMEDIATELY, folks! Dial 911 or the non-emergency line (206-625-5011). And feel free to write me—email@example.com—and tell me how that goes. Bike lanes are for bikers, not parked cars and trucks.