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About the New Second Street Bike Lane…

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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.

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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.

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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.

In the meantime, please continue sending in your faded lanes to Randy@BicycleCoalition.org.

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.

Topics: Biking in Philly, Featured, Vision Zero

4 comments on “About the New Second Street Bike Lane…

  1. kclo3

    Since when was it policy to stripe all new one-way lanes on the left side? Plenty, if not most lanes are on the right side, including most east-west streets like Spruce/Pine. Having this left-side policy solely for what seems to be southbound streets like 12th and 2nd is completely irrational. The 2nd St lane is already only a pathetic 7 blocks long, and having circumstances as obvious as merging offramps from the left should have easily convinced Streets to place the entire lane on the right. Maintaining bus stop/bike lane segregation is far less important than maintaining separation from motor vehicles and avoiding the insane use of crossovers. Neglecting contextual circumstances for a misguided policy is completely indefensible, and the Streets Dept will never learn otherwise.

  2. Aaron B

    “the city’s policy is to place bike lanes on the left-hand side of one-way streets”

    That’s cute.
    As if the City or Streets have any standards whatsoever for its bike lane policies.

  3. James Campbell

    I was asked about my comment regarding the error(s) made on 15th Street. It is correct that the left lane on 15th Street between City Hall and South Street is marked as a sharrow and not a bike lane – and the article was in particular about a bike lane. Personally I believe that same principle applies to bike lanes and sharrows. As bicycles generally travel at a slower rate than motorized vehicles, I think it generally makes sense to keep bike lanes and sharrows to the right rather than the left where generally slower traffic also exists. This does not mean that I think there should be avocation for having bike lanes adjacent to parked cars. Bike lanes tend to funnel bike traffic and such funneling adjacent to parked cars and the potential of opening of doors is a design error to be avoided if at all possible. This being said, a sharrow lane allows a bicyclist to take the entire lane and if bikers do so, there is a lessening the probability of getting “doored”. Thus, I think my comment still makes sense – i.e. it makes no sense to put either bike lanes to the left or sharrows in the left lane as a matter of policy unless there is no other better solution as there is an increase in the possible harm due to higher speed which, in my opinion far outweighs the occasional discomfort of having to deal with the complexities of what might exist along or in the right lane.

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