Not long after the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia proposed 30 miles of new protected bike lanes under the new Kenney Administration (alongside a promise made by Kenney in a campaign document), the city received word that funding has been approved to begin that process.
As part of the $7.6 million in Transportation Alternatives Program project money recently awarded to the region by the DVRPC, Philadelphia will receive $300,000 for “on-road improvements,” according to the DVRPC’s press release, “including flexible delineator posts, signage, and pavement markings, for cyclists at designated locations throughout the City of Philadelphia.” An additional $200,000 has also been requested from PennDOT for improvements.
The Bicycle Coalition believes this is the beginning of a series of high-quality on-street, protected bike lanes, which will make the streets safer for all road users in Philadelphia.
There were 15 projects applied for by the City in the original TAP program, as shown in the map below.
And PlanPhilly has a nice breakdown of what many of them mean for Philly cyclists.
No. 8. N. 33rd Street Protected Bicycle Lanes: This conventional bike lane will be upgraded to protected.
No. 9. Spruce/Pine Street Protected Bike Lanes: Adds delineator posts to existing buffered bike lane running between 22nd and Front Streets.
No. 10. Walnut Street Protected Bike Lane: Adds delineator posts to existing, left-side bike lane from 23rd Street to 63rd Street. The city piloted protected bike lanes on the Walnut Street Bridge.
No. 11. 30th Street Protected Contraflow Bicycle Lane: The existing bike lane between Walnut and Market Streets will get delineator posts. Between Chestnut and Market, the bike lane is a contraflow lane— 30th Street automobile traffic flows south, but bicycle traffic goes north. As the Bicycle Coalition has noted, drivers frequently mistake contraflow bike lanes as a parking lane. The posts will help prevent that confusion.
No. 13. South/Lombard Streets Protected Bicycle Lanes: Lombard Street has a bike lane from 22nd Street until it curves at the base of the South Street Bridge. South Street has a bike lane from the bridge until 22nd. Both of these will be upgraded with delineator posts.
No. 14. Lindbergh Boulevard Protected Bicycle Lanes: New protected bike lanes will be painted along this connector street linking the John Heniz National Wildlife Refuge to Bartram’s Garden.
No. 15. Passyunk/Oregon Avenue Protected Bike Lanes: The West Passyunk Avenue’s bike lane currently disappears when the road spans the Schuylkill. Protected bike lanes will be added to the bridge. In a related but separate project, PennDOT will resurface the bridge’s grates, which can be particularly slippery and dangerous for bikes and motorcycles. Oregon Avenue’s existing bike lane between Passyunk Avenue and 22nd Street will also be upgraded to protected.
There are additional projects not included in the PlanPhilly descriptions above. As most projects are concerned, what they are described as now and what actually gets built could look different. Neighborhood groups have not yet been briefed on these projects. And the additional $200,000 has not yet been secured.
Nevertheless, the prospect of these projects, and the funding, is the result of many groups in the Philadelphia region working together to make safety a priority. Physically-separated lanes are a large part of a Vision Zero policy and have been proven to make streets safer for all road users.
Protected bike lanes on single lane roads will ultimately make the street more dangerous.
As a resident of spruce street, I sometimes need to double park to take large loads into or out of my house. I am not alone in this practice.
With the current configuration, there is room to bypass parked cars. But with the posts, this practice will become impossible. Drivers will either have to wait behind people loading goods (philly drivers could learn some patience), or, more likely, drivers will unsafely park on corners and block intersections and cross walks.
My other concern is where these posts will be installed along spruce and pine streets. Religious houses allow their patrons to park in the bike lane. Will these individuals still park in the bike lane? Will they park in the drive lane? Has this issue been acknowledged?
More work needs to be done educating the public and encouraging traffic conecentration. As a biker, I use 10th and 15th streets to bike south. As a driver, I use 12th and 17th streets to drive south.
It would be nice if people only double-parked in bike lanes in cases of real necessity. But that is not at all the way it is now. I walk along Pine, Spruce, Lombard, and South frequently. What I see all the time, and distressingly, is the bike lanes being used as parking places by delivery trucks (UPS and Fed Ex are terrible), construction vehicles (plumbers, electricians, etc.), and by residents who often sit in their cars for extended periods of time, or even leave their cars as if in parking spaces. Only a very few are engaged in carrying heavy packages into adjacent dwellings; mainly, it’s a matter of convenience and a free parking spot. Also, many drivers use the bike lanes as ways to get ahead in traffic, even though this often results in their bird-dogging bike riders. Religious houses also abuse the bike lanes, considering them free parking. Throughout the world (North and South America, Europe, Australia, Asia, even Africa), cities that really value safety divide bikes and cars, whether by posts or by curbs or even by fences. It works there, and it will work here. Those of us without cars carry things across and along streets, even heavy objects, and those with cars can do that, too. Yes, front-door convenience will be reduced for some, but the safety of all will increase.
It never ceases to amaze me how entitled car owners feel when it comes to the streets of Philadelphia.
I need to unload and I must do that at my front door. Have they lost the use of their legs? Do their feet suddenly seem foreign to them? Are they unable to afford a folding basket? Should we take up a collection?
Perhaps a burb with a driveway would be more suitable to your needs–something you do not have to share with anyone, and that prevents you from ever having to walk a couple of blocks.
Does religion suddenly strike your legs, making them inoperable? If you must drive a car to your church in the city, perhaps a church closer to your house might be in order?
Cyclists [and pedestrians]have patiently put up with being considered 2nd/3rd class citizens long enough. It’s time.
My concern with protected bike lanes comes from my experience of those on the Walnut Street Bridge. It looks like they will be harder to maintain/sweep than the current bike lanes, resulting in a bad surface or narrower lane for us cyclists. Debris will accumulate all year as will snow and ice in inclement weather.
There is a whole 3rd lane that is just parked cars. What about lobbying for a few (1-2) loading zone spaces per block so that drivers with a real need to do loading actually have a legal space to go that isn’t a bike lane. We need to find a solution that isn’t terrible for anyone (… no one will be perfectly happy either).