By Benjamin Harris
Installed in June 2018, the Market/JFK Vision Zero Pilot Project brought Center City its first parking protected bicycle lane between 15th St and 20th St on both Market St and JFK Blvd. The project shortened pedestrian crossing distances, created two new turn lanes on JFK Blvd and one on Market St, and gave us Philly’s first bicycle signal at 15th St and Market St. Initially, there was a second bicycle signal at JFK Blvd and 20th St, but it was removed, we were told, for logistical and timing problems.
Previously both streets had remained overwhelmingly auto-oriented, in a destination rich area and a hub for all transportation modes. Before the protected lanes went in, both streets had speed inducing 4-lanes of single direction vehicle traffic.
There were 140 crashes between 2012-2016 resulting in 154 injures along the five blocks of Market Street and five blocks JFK Boulevard where the protected lanes now are. As many will note, transportation advocate Peter Javsicas was killed by an out of control driver while standing on the sidewalk at 16th and JFK Boulevard in 2016. JFK and Market Streets in Center City were considered part of Philadelphia’s high injury network, and engineering changes were required to fix them.
The City released their evaluation report this week and found that not only that traveler comfort increased for all modes, but that driver travel times were maintained and that further congestion conditions were not caused. In fact, after an evaluation plan involving city agencies, SEPTA, PennDOT, and other organizations, found many positive improvements towards the safety, mobility, and quality of life of those living, working, and traveling through the corridor. Such as…
- 12.8% reduction in the number vehicles with speeds above the speed limit during off-peak time.
- 37% of respondents feet it is safer to cross, 37% feel it is the same comfort level, and 26% feel it is less safe.
- 21% increase of the number of people biking along the corridor.
- Through-traffic was maintained from before and after the pilot.
- 76 percent of area residents surveyed support making the pilot project permanent
The City will continue gathering data along the corridor with the goal of continuing the pilot until the paving of JFK, which is scheduled for this year, and to formalize the design while keeping the safety improvements. The two area community associations in the corridor have voiced support or non-opposition, which often times can be an enormous obstacle if they are in opposition to a project.
Moving the 9-month pilot program ahead, a big next step will be working with City Council President Darrell Clarke’s office to pass the legislation necessary to finalize the travel lane changes, so it can move forward with city agencies and other organizations to finalized a permanent design.
The Bicycle Coalition long advocated for bike lanes on these streets. Read that history here.
Click here to view the full report.