The Streets Department has begun installing a new bike lane along Second Street from Northern Liberties to Old City, which can help serve cyclists along the popular River Wards-to-Center City commute — but there are still some kinks in the lane that need to be worked out.
The Second Street bike lane, beginning at Poplar Street, begins as a standard, 5-foot lane, and goes a few blocks to Fairmount Avenue. It stops at Fairmount (where motor vehicle parking switches to parallel from back-in), and picks up again at Spring Garden Street, where it travels south to Callowhill. Unfortunately, at Callowhill, the lane switches from the east to west side of the street, then ends at Wood Street.
The lane is not done, yet. But we have already gotten several complaints and informed the Philadelphia Streets Department of those complaints.
Our constituents are unhappy that the bike lane only goes a few blocks at a time without either a) Ending and beginning again, or b) switching sides of the street. We feel these facets of the lane can be dangerous for cyclists and potentially confusing for drivers.
According to the Streets Department, these lanes are being supplemented by speed cushions and advisory signage when complete. Additional signs advising cyclists and motor vehicles of the switch from the east to west side of the street at Callowhill will be installed to complete the project, as well.
As additionally noted, the city’s policy is to place bike lanes on the left-hand side of one-way streets. Streets feels there are a number of safety benefits, including the segregation of bikes from bus stops, and a better sight angle for the driver of the motor vehicle, who is also on the left.
Streets also indicated that when Second Street is repaved, they will consider whether to move the bike lane to the left-hand side after Callowhill, as well. Unfortunately, the intersection at Second and Callowhill is really weird, and brings together cars traveling south on Second Street, and vehicles getting off I-95 South, the latter of which is the main disadvantage when attempting to place the bike lane on the left.
Additionally, there are bicycle-friendly grates we believe the city should begin using in bike lanes. The current grates the city uses are terribly perfect for fitting bike tires and injuring cyclists, as shown here at 2nd and Spring Garden.
It should also be noted that as long as motor vehicle parking is prioritized over the safety of cyclists by neighborhood groups and elected officials, block-long gaps that switch between the left and right side of the street at intersections are inevitable. If you notice the block-long gap between Fairmount and Spring Garden, the lane literally runs into parking spaces, which is why it ends. Additionally, when the lane moves to the right side, it ends at Wood Street, just before motor vehicle parking begins again.
We will continually be in touch with Streets about this issue as it develops and the lane markings are completed.
We have gotten lots of great feedback on this issue and have updated our map accordingly, both for the benefit of cyclists trying to choose the best route between two points in the city, and so the city better understands where they need to re-mark.