Members of the Pennsylvania State Legislature introduced legislation which would allow for parking-protected bike lanes and pedestrian plazas on state roads throughout the state.
The bipartisan bills in the House and Senate, co-sponsored by Democrats and Republicans throughout the Keystone state, will amend the state vehicle code so that motor vehicles do not necessarily need to park within twelve inches of a concrete curb.
This legislation is especially important for cyclists in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania’s two biggest cities and largest cycling communities. That’s why the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia and Bike Pittsburgh have combined forces to advocate to pass this legislation in 2019.
“Pennsylvania has a serious public safety problem with an increasing trend of pedestrians and bicyclists being killed in traffic crashes. The Commonwealth’s outdated vehicle code needs to be brought into the 21st century so that Pennsylvania’s traffic engineers can redesign roads and streets to make them safe for its most vulnerable users. This legislation is long overdue and must be passed as soon as possible,” said Sarah Clark Stuart, Executive Director of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia.
“We’ve heard from multiple municipalities who would like to install parking protected bike lanes, but had to change or water down designs,” says Scott Bricker, Executive Director of Bike Pittsburgh. “This small change in the vehicle code will yield huge benefits in safety, just like it does in other states.”
Currently, the small detail in the code, combined with PennDOT’s ownership of a large number of road miles throughout the state, including 30 percent of streets in Philadelphia, is stymying the installation of car parked-protected bike lanes.
PennDOT streets make up a disproportionate amount of high-crash and high-injury streets in both cities.
In Pittsburgh, PennDOT maintains only 13% of the roadways within the city, yet state roads account for the majority of bicycle fatalities and serious injuries.
And, according to the high-injury network released by Philadelphia’s Office of Transportation, Infrastructure and Sustainability, PennDOT streets make up 58 percent of Philly’s high-injury streets.
In Pittsburgh, the contraflow bike lane on Forbes Ave in Oakland, between Bellefield St and Bigelow Blvd, was supposed to be parking protected. However, due to the existing law, it is merely separated with plastic bollards that do not prevent cars from entering the bike lane.
Last legislative session, the House version of this bill passed unanimously. But the Senate version did not come up for a vote.
Our organizations are determined to make sure that does not happen this year. From Pittsburgh to Philly, all Pennsylvanians who ride bicycle should be safe. That’s why we support Pennsylvania Senate Bill 565 and House Bill 792.
And throughout Spring 2019, our organizations will be working together to advocate for the passage of the House and Senate versions of this legislation, beginning with an action alert going out to our respective members and supporters this week.
Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia
Randy LoBasso, Policy Manager
215-242-9253 Ext. 311
Scott Bricker, Executive Director