PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It’s been nearly a year and a half now since the Philadelphia Parking Authority ripped out thousands of old parking meters in Center and University Cities, but many of the old poles which held those meters remain in place, littering city sidewalks.
It’s something the Parking Authority says is slowly changing, but judging by the numbers, it could be a while longer before the poles are either removed or converted to bike racks.
Sixteen hundred poles are being turned into bike racks, using $130,000 in federal funds. At least another 1,300 poles are being removed. The Parking Authority announced the project last November and says so far about a third of the poles – 560 – have been converted into bike racks.
The process had to be stopped twice: first for faulty paint on the new racks, then to reinforce them because some have said they’re vulnerable.
“Yes, things could move faster, but these things take time,” says Alex Doty, executive director of the Bicycle Coalition of Philadelphia. “We’re very happy to see this conversion happen. There are other cities where this has not happened at all.”
Doty says there’s no doubt that the city needs more bicycle parking. He says twice as many people bike now as did in 2005. Plus, when the Parking Authority removed the meters, it removed thousands of secure locking locations for bicyclists. The new bike racks will help alleviate the crunch.
But that still leaves the poles that must be removed. The Parking Authority could not provide numbers on how many have been taken out, but did say they expect all the work, both converting and removing the poles, to be finished by next spring.
“We have three people assigned to that,” said Corinne O’Connor, director of on street parking at the PPA. She did acknowledge that those workers only work on this project one day per week.
“Basically try to be patient,” she said. “They’re working as fast as they possibly can with the budget we have.”
Reported By: Ben Simmoneau, CBS 3