Editor’s Note: Over the next week, the Bicycle Coalition will be showcasing our Year-in-Review, which is also available at BicycleCoalition2016.org
The push for safety and better streets continued into Summer 2016. The Bicycle Coalition began organizing groups throughout Philadelphia to create a Vision Zero Alliance, and rallied for better, safer bike lanes throughout the city, with money Philadelphia had previously received.
South Street Bridge
First off, the city announced — finally — that it would add a protected bike lane to the South Street Bridge, which connects West Philadelphia to Center City, via South Street.
Construction which had been planned for several years had begun on the bridge in the spring. The Bicycle Coalition had been meeting with city agencies for two years before that, pushing for a plan to keep the South Street Bridge’s bike lane in place, and make it safer during, and after, construction. (Construction which continues going on at the end of 2016.)
Post construction, though, 200 feet of delineators will be installed on the Bridge in advance of the upcoming driveway into the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s building to prevent right turns from drifting into the bike lane. The bollards were removed in the fall for further construction on the bridge, but will return when construction is complete in 2017.
This solution was confirmed by the Philadelphia Streets Department, and was arrived at through negotiations between Bicycle Coalition, James Campbell, the City and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for the nearly two years.
We are pleased that this solution was agreed to by all parties as it will provide additional safety for bicyclists passing in front of the new driveway. The South Street Bridge was on a map of new protected bike lanes the Bicycle Coalition had proposed during Mayor Jim Kenney’s transition.
Northeast Philly Protected and Buffered Bike Lanes
After several years of work, two lanes were approved and installed in Northeast Philadelphia over the summer: A parking-protected bike lane on Ryan Avenue in Mayfair (the first of its kind in the city), and a buffered bike lane on Tyson Avenue (the first since City Council passed a bill to cut down on safe bike lanes.)
The Ryan Avenue lane is the city’s first and comes after years of talks and planning between the Philadelphia Streets Department, Councilman Bobby Henon, and the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia.
The new lane was covered extensively in local media. But one more piece of note about the lane is that during the city’s press conference, representatives of city government made additional public comments showing their dedication to 30 miles of protected bike lanes during Mayor Jim Kenney’s tenure.
“This protected bicycle lane is an important first step to celebrate as we start to create a network of protected bicycle lanes in the City,” noted Mayor Kenney. [Protected bike lanes] help calm traffic and encourage people to walk and bike around the neighborhood.”
Additionally, a new buffered bike lane proposed by Councilman Bobby Henon passed City Council unanimously. This is the first buffered bike lane to be installed that would remove a lane of vehicular traffic since 2012, when Council passed a bill requiring they vote on such things instead of trusting engineers’ and other experts’ research and reports.
Henon’s new bike lane is along Tyson Avenue in Northeast Philadelphia, from Roosevelt Boulevard to Frankford Avenue. The Bicycle Coalition’s Bob Previdi testified in favor of the bike lane on June 7.
Cadence Athlete Named Gates Millennium Scholar
Cadence Youth Cycling graduate Allen Williams was selected as a Gates Millennium Scholar this summer — and we were all super proud of him.
Williams was one of just 1,000 students across the United States to earn the award — out of more than 54,000 who applied. The award will help this young athlete and academic pay for his continued schooling.
The Gates Millennium Scholarship is a prestigious grant funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, designed to promote academic excellence and provide an opportunity for outstanding minority students to reach their highest potential.
The 5th Street Tunnel has long been both a really fun, and really scary, route for cyclists — and that’s about to change a little. After more than a year of meetings and planning, the 5th Street Tunnel’s bike lane got bollards and new lighting this summer.
How the project got done is an testament to why our supporters, friends, and volunteers are so important:
Construction on 5th Street Tunnel was about to start, and a protected bike lane has long been a goal of Philly’s bicycling community.
So, after speaking with our friends on social media, including Sara Hirschler, Bicycle Coalition research director John Boyle got in touch with the Streets Department and the Delaware River Port Authority, which is in charge of the tunnel while the Streets Dept. manages the road surface.
At a meeting between our organizations, and in additional conversations with the Streets Department and the DRPA, we suggested Streets install a buffered bike lane with bollards to better separate bicycles from motor vehicles using the tunnel.
A public meeting was held. Both Boyle and Hirschler spoke out for a protected bike lane in the tunnel. We were later informed that the Streets Department, DRPA and Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities were all thinking the same thing.
$500,000 for Suburban Roads
DVRPC authorized $500,000 for better striping, installation and maintenance, bike lane signage, and symbols, for Southeastern Pennsylvania’s four suburban counties. These funds came about in part due to the Coalition’s advocacy for striping plans for seven state roads in the four counties.
Better Bike Share Conference
In June, Philadelphia hosted the first Better Bike Share Conference, a gathering that brought together system operators, city transportation officials, social justice advocates, and people that work to bring bike share to every community, to talk about what’s working, what isn’t, and how bike share can be a transportation tool for everyone.
The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, the City of Philadelphia, the National Association of City Transportation Officials, the William Penn Foundation, and People For Bikes helped put together the Better Bike Share Partnership with the goal of increasing access and usage of bike share to underserved communities in the U.S.
Philadelphia was the first city to utilize Better Bike Share, which helped bring about a third of all bike share stations we received in 2014 to underserved communities.
The Circuit Trails got more than $4.5 million in funding over the summer, thanks to grant awards from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that were announced earlier this summer.
The money comes from state revenues generated by Acts 13 and 89, and grants made possible by a federal program for distribution by the states. Municipalities and other entities competed for these grants, which can help fund diverse projects, ranging from trail construction, to watershed protection, to abandoned mine drainage.
Meanwhile, the Circuit was re-launched and got a brand-new website, detailing the “100s of Miles of Happy” the Circuit has to offer, and giving users a stronger interface to plan out their routes for trail riding in the region.