A few weeks ago, 22nd Street between Spring Garden Street and Fairmount Avenue was milled and prepared for resurfacing. The City’s 2012 Pedestrian/Bicycle Plan calls for a bike lane for this stretch of 22nd Street, and the Streets Department is prepared to install the bike lane. But things have gotten complicated.

For these five blocks of 22nd Street, the street gradually narrows. The street did not have lane markings before it was milled. Although some car drivers have treated the street as having two travel lanes it is not officially marked that way.

Confusion over whether cars should be traveling in one or two lanes as the street narrows over several blocks is confusing and unsafe for car drivers, buses and bicyclists. While 22nd Street is too narrow for two lanes it’s also too wide for one, and an overly wide travel lane invites aggressive drivers to drive two abreast and to speed. Streets Department engineers have often used a bike lane in this situation to absorb the excess space and clearly mark a single travel lane. It’s a great boon to bicyclist safety but is also necessary for the safety of motorists. If a bike lane were not available, traffic engineers would use something else to stripe a single, normal-width travel lane.

Councilman Bill Greenlee argues that there is neighborhood opposition to striping the street as one travel lane with a bike lane. We know that there is also neighborhood support for the bike lane, as several neighbors have expressed their support to Councilman Greenlee and Council President Darrell Clarke (then informed us that they did so).

Is the 22nd Street bike lane primarily for accommodating bicyclists or is it necessary to make the street safer for everyone, including motorists? You can make an argument for needing a demonstration of neighborhood support before adding a new amenity like a bike lane or a bike parking corral. It seems absurd to require a demonstration of neighborhood support in order for Streets Department engineers to do an essential part of their jobs and reduce crashes.

Unfortunately, none of this muddle was sorted out before the street was milled. Under a tight deadline to repave, the Streets Department may decide to repave 22nd Street and delay striping the street until the conflict can be resolved.

We will continue to advocate for the safety of all users of 22nd Street, motorists and bicyclists alike, through the addition of the bike lane. We will keep you updated on our progress.

If you live in the area and want to voice your support for the 22nd Street bike lanes, please contact Susan (susan@bicyclecoalition.org) for more information.

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