The Bicycle Coalition has been working the better part of six – six! – years on a Chestnut Street protected bike lane, and the project took a crucial step on Thursday when it passed first reading in City Council.
The lane, which will initially run east, from 45th Street to 34th Street, will be the city’s second parking-protected bike lane, and likely the first completed section of our Hub and Spoke campaign lanes to be constructed. (Read more about Hub and Spoke here.)
The Bicycle Coalition has been working with the City, local neighborhood organizations, schools, and Councilwoman Blackwell, who represents this part of West Philadelphia, to determine out how best to serve the community with a safe bicycle lane. (Read the background on our work to secure this bike lane here.) And that was evident during testimony about the lane on Thursday in City Council.
“They beat me down,” said Councilwoman Blackwell with a laugh. “My community, Bike Coalition, everybody, so we’re happy to support it.”
Bob Previdi, policy coordinator of the Bicycle Coalition, then thanked Councilwoman Blackwell for her support. “We want to make the streets safer for all road users,” he said.
Maurice Jones, of Henry Lea School and the Garden Court Community Association in West Philadelphia, then noted his own support of the bill.
“We totally support this bill to make the area that we live in safer,” said Jones. “As a person who bikes in the area, along with my son and many of the residents, we totally support this bill and thank the Councilwoman for her support, as well.”
As was evident from her comments, it was important Councilwoman Blackwell heard from her constituents on this issue. The Streets Department and the Office of Transportation and Infrastructure Systems — who also worked tirelessly on this — held a community meeting, in which all residents were shown the safety improvements that’d come along with a new protected bike lane on Chestnut Street.
The Bicycle Coalition alone cannot convince a Councilperson to support a change in street design. Near neighbors and neighborhood community groups must be proponents as well.
The Bicycle Coalition is advocating that the protected bike lane be extended all the way out to Cobb’s Creek. We are continuing our work with local organizations and neighbors west of 45th Street to make sure they are given the opportunity for a safer Chestnut Street after seeing and experiencing the 11 blocks to the east.