In March 2017, we told you about Hub and Spoke, our vision of a high quality bicycle network for Philadelphia, allowing for easy access to Greater Center City via North, South, and West Philadelphia. The concept is that Philadelphia needs a high quality connected network to grow its bicycle culture and dramatically increase the number of bicycle trips.
This network would involve protected on-road infrastructure or off-road Circuit Trails encircling Greater Center City, and paths into Philadelphia’s core from all those networks, allowing easier access to Greater Center City, and throughout neighborhoods.
Over the last year, The City of Philadephia (Office of Transportation and Infrastructure and the Streets Department) has successfully made significant progress on JFK and Market Streets in Center City (currently undergoing a protected bike lane pilot); West Chestnut Street (the protected bike lane of which will be extended); American Street construction has begun; Delaware Avenue’s trail is being planned for construction starting in 2019 and two key gaps on the Schuylkill River Trail are closer to being closed. The 13th and 15th Street treatments are set to begin this summer.
We are actively continuing to work on protected infrastructure for Washington Avenue, 22nd Street, and the Spring Garden Street Greenway. Here’s some more detail on where we are with the bike lanes above.
West Chestnut Street
In August 2017, the City of Philadelphia officially unveiled the first part of the West Chestnut Street parking-protected bike lane, between 45th and 34th Streets. As many will recall, Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell requested, at the press conference introducing the lane, that it be temporary. But because she introduced the ordinance for the lane to be permanent earlier that summer, the request was not entertained. Since opening, the city and others have studied driver and cyclist behavior and found positive impacts. West Chestnut Street, which is along the city’s “High Injury Network,” has seen a declining rate of speed during morning commute hours — speeds have actually decreased by 47 percent, according to DVRPC Speed Count Data and a UCD pedestrian intercept survey found 60 percent of people reported the project made them feel safer when crossing the street. Not to mention the 81 percent increase in cycling along the corridor, when compared to Fall 2015.
But that doesn’t mean this particular “spoke” is complete. The Bicycle Coalition and our partners on this project spent six years advocating for a lane to go all the way up to Cobbs Creek, and we will continue doing so. We held our first meeting in West Philadelphia in the winter to speak about safety improvements along the corridor and make the street safer not just for those within these 11-blocks, but all up and down Chestnut Street.
Additionally, PennDOT will be closing the Chestnut Street Bridge for construction, and we will make sure that, when it reopens, the bike lane is on the left side of the street between 33rd and 22nd Streets, and that it is protected.
This particular “spoke” of the plan is currently undergoing a pilot protected bike lane, and, both in use and in anecdotes, we’ve been seeing positive changes. Many cyclists are using the lane, and bike signals have additionally been installed at 16th and Market and at 20th and JFK. Getting to this point has been a long, hard road, which we documented here.
An education and enforcement plan was developed by oTIS, the PPD and PPA, and we are awaiting those results.
Once the Pilot is complete and the bike lanes are left in place, we would like to see — and are advocating for — a bicycle facility over the JFK Bridge to 30th Street Station.
Central Delaware River Waterfront Trail
The western piece of the “hub” is the Central Delaware River Waterfront Trail, which would, at first, extend from Spring Garden Street to Washington Avenue, is moving closer to reality. The first round of designs were recently completed for the 3.3 mile trail portion of Hub and Spoke, and will eventually be installed as part of a much larger waterfront development project. “The section is planned as part of a $225 million waterfront development initiative that also includes capping a portion of I-95 with a four-acre park,” as reported by Philly.com. “Features of the trail segment are to include a two-way bike path and separate pedestrian sidewalk, as well as new landscaping and streetlamps and furniture, DRWC said in a release.” The Central Delaware Trail will be “a curb-separated, bi-directional asphalt bicycle path and separate pedestrian sidewalk as well as new landscaping, pedestrian lighting, and street furnishings.” The $21 million project is scheduled to begin construction in 2019.
Another “spoke” of the plan, a protected bike lane along American Street in North Philadelphia is currently being constructed. The North American Streetscape Project, which it’s called, includes roadway resurfacing, line striping and bike lanes. Construction began on Monday, April 16. The project will go from Girard to Indiana Streets and also includes the removal of unused trolley track infrastructure and the installation of ADA ramps. According to a Streets Department press release, the second phase of the construction project begins on July 9th.
The full project will cost $26.4 M, and it is being funded with a Federal TIGER Grant as well as Federal Funds and Streets Department and Water Department funds. Once complete, this project will add some much-needed transportation options for North Philadelphia residents.
Spring Garden “Greenway”
Up until this spring, the future Spring Garden Street Greenway was envisioned as a multi-use path in the median of the street, a project that was still several years away, given funding constraints. Now, that plan has been scrapped, and it’s much more likely the street will be set up with protected bike lanes on either side — once, again, when funding is available. Full design (both preliminary and final) is estimated to be between $3-6 million with the construction costs estimated around $23-25 million in current construction dollars. At present, only a portion of the preliminary design costs have been raised. The project cost will include, in addition to the protected bike lanes, stormwater abatement, and removal of old trolley tracks. Numerous City Council ordinances are needed to begin the project, too.
Advocacy groups, such as Pennsylvania Environmental Council, the East Coast Greenway Alliance, the Clean Air Council and others, have been holding meetings to talk more about the Spring Garden Greenway project. BCGP has suggested to the city that they create pilot protected bike lanes on Spring Garden Street. After recently measuring the street, we have concluded there is enough room to do so, even with the center median in tact.
While developments to Washington Avenue have been stopped short and delayed over the past several years, the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia has been holding meetings with the Office of Transportation and Infrastructure Systems, 5th Square, and City Councilmembers to advance the project forward. We hope that progress will be announced in the near future.
Schuylkill River Trail
The eastern edge of the “Hub” grew in length when an extension of the trail from South Street to the vicinity of Christian Street was opened in January 2018. Now, only 2 gaps are left between the Philadelphia Art Museum and Bartram’s Garden. The Grays Ferry Crossing is under construction and the last gap, the Christian to Crescent Connector, received a $12 million federal TIGER award in March 2018. Construction of that section is set to begin in 2020.