Q: I thought I read a while ago in your column that the city eliminated the bus-only right lane and no-turn prohibitions on Chestnut Street (and that they just didn't take the signs down). A few weeks ago my friend got pulled over for turning right on 15th, but he didn't get a ticket. Am I dreaming, or are the old rules still in place?
A: The way folks drive down Chestnut Street in Center City, even during non-rush hours, could lead anyone to believe the lane restriction had been eliminated--or that at least the "no right turn" restriction had been lifted. Indeed, PW did run a story about the loosening of traffic restrictions on Chestnut Street--almost two years ago. The August 2002 piece says that in September 2000, a bill was brought before City Council to allow right turns along Chestnut from Eighth to Broad streets. The bill passed unanimously and became law on May 29, 2002. The restriction was also mentioned in this space in September 2001, when a reader wrote to ask why the "no right turn" rule wasn't being enforced. Back then, Sgt. Roland Lee of the police department's public affairs office said it was being enforced and that they had the tickets to prove it. "We put our traffic people specifically on Chestnut Street, mainly during rush hours," he said at the time. The reason for the right-turn restriction was addressed in the following issue, when an assistant engineering manager for the Streets Department said that while the situation was far from ideal, the restriction intended to "give preference to transit and non-motorized vehicles" was necessary. Streets Department spokesperson Keisha McCarty-Skelton says the "regulations are still in effect" today. She goes on to explain that right turns aren't allowed from 18th to 15th streets, but are now permitted elsewhere along Chestnut. So your friend who was pulled over for making a right turn from Chestnut Street onto 15th Street a few weeks ago is a very lucky man for not getting a ticket even after blatantly breaking the law.
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