After 17 months as an open street, bringing thousands of Philadelphia residents to Fairmount Park and becoming the most-used bike/ped trail in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City leaders have decided to re-open MLK Drive to cars effective August 4, 2021.
While this is disappointing to the thousands of Philadelphians who have used the Drive over the past year, we, along with the Philadelphia Bike Expo and Piscitello Law, want you to know how to be safe when the road reopens.
New Traffic Patterns
MLK Drive was reconfigured as a mostly 2-lane road with a wide median and wide shoulders. The shoulders were striped to look like bike lanes but it’s important that all road users understand these are shoulders, not bike lanes.
The ramps between the road and trail are only located at the start and end of the MLK Drive. With all of the new changes, take a moment to plan your trip along MLK Drive.
Biking on the Road
Given the speed at which most folks drive on MLK and as an alternative to I-76, we do not recommend cyclists travel in the shoulder to ride their bike, their scooter, or any other form of active transportation. That said, it is technically legal to use your bicycle on the street, and it is legal to take the lane on any street other than a highway.
Getting on at the Art Museum
Due to structural deficiencies, MLK Drive will remain open to people between the Museum and Sweetbriar Drive. You can continue using the entire road between the Museum and Sweetbriar Drive, at which point you should jump on the trail.
Biking on the Trail
Secondly, the path alongside MLK Drive was recently repaved and widened. It is smooth, no longer has tree roots sticking out of it, and should be used by all trail users who continue to use MLK Drive. Remember to share the path with other trail users.
Per the City’s press release, MLK Drive will be closed to cars on Saturday and Sunday between Sweetbriar and Falls Bridge and will stay open to cars all the time between Sweetbriar and the Art Museum, due to deficiency of the Bridge.