At a press conference in the International House on Tuesday, the City of Philadelphia officially opened the West Chestnut Street parking-protected bike lane. The protected bike lane is the first of its kind, and provides safe access for cyclists between 45th and 34th Streets in West Philadelphia.
Given the weather, the press conference celebrating the new lane was moved inside the International House, where a group of elected officials, city officials, and neighbors to speak about the importance of Philly’s first one-way protected bike lane.
“My administration is committed to improving the design of streets to keep all residents safe,” said Mayor Jim Kenney at the press conference. “This effort includes the installation of protected bicycle lanes to provide safe and comfortable routes for Philadelphians of all ages and abilities. We are excited to introduce the first of this type of project in the city and we’ll be back in the coming years with more corridors citywide.”
Kenney also noted that though this is first lane of its kind—it’s not the last.
“This is an exciting time for West Philadelphia, and for the city as a whole,” said Maurice Jones of Henry Lea School and the Garden Court Community Association in West Philadelphia. “We’ve been listed as a world heritage city and as part of that you need infrastructure that’s going to support that type of designation.”
Jones additionally cited his work in the community, and at Lea Elementary’s Walk and Bike to School Program, and has heard, for many years, that people have wanted a safer West Chestnut Street. Jones has been a big supporter of this project since the beginning, and testified in front of City Council before Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell introduced an ordinance making the lane permanent.
The 1.1-mile stretch of bike lane includes new striping, signage, and flexible delineator posts to indicate where cyclists should ride, and where motor vehicles should park.
As readers of this blog know, the Bicycle Coalition and the City have been involved in this project for over six years. We knew then, as we do now, that there is going to be a transition period for everyone—cyclists, motorists, and pedestrians—to get used to the new streetscape. Over time, though, we expect this Vision Zero protected bike lane project to work the way so many others have: Reduce crashes along the corridor, entice more people to ride bicycles, and create a safer, more welcoming street for everyone.