Bicycle Coalition

A recent article published by Philly Voice answered one disgruntled motorist’s complaints about cyclists on Kelly Drive using the roadway instead of the bike path.

The concerned driver commented on the “arrogant and dangerous” manner in which cyclists refuse to use the designated bike path, bringing up a legitimate safety concern that involves everyone, drivers and cyclists, as well as pedestrians.

Kelly Drive boasts itself as a four-mile stretch of road for anyone, with a four-lane roadway for cars and a wide path for bikes and pedestrians running adjacent. The path is designed to comfortably fit cyclists, joggers, dog-walkers, and leisurely strollers at once, but is often times crowded with traffic that makes navigating on a bike nearly impossible. Traffic aside, the path includes sharp turns, the occasional pothole, and a 5 mph speed limit that greatly limits cyclists’ ability to ride smoothly down the path.

Randy LoBasso, our communications manager, further explains why cyclists prefer the road over the path, via the PhillyVoice article:

Bicycles are allowed on the Drive and the person asking the question is probably talking about high-speed training rides.

Since the path along Kelly Drive is a multi-use path, it’s safer and more logical for high-speed cyclists to be in the road than dodging families, joggers, slow cyclists, and dogs.

Additionally, Pennsylvania State Law does not require that cyclists have to use side paths.

The Drive itself would be much less dangerous for everyone if the 35 mile-per-hour speed limit was followed by everyone.

To a professional cyclist looking to train at high speeds, the idea of riding on the bike path is not only laughable, but also illegal and highly dangerous.

Taking the path would mean constantly weaving in and out of walkers, dogs, and baby strollers, and not to mention completely ignoring the 5 mph speed limit.

Riding on the four lane road rather than the crowded path is actually the safer route for cyclists, and also entirely legal, contrary to many people’s belief that cyclists must used bike paths when given.

While this discussion focuses mainly on the actions of cyclists, it’s important to note that drivers are held equally, if not more responsible for roadway safety, and it appears they could be doing more than just complaining about bikes.

Brian Hickey, author the original Philly Voice piece under discussion, had his attention turned to the drivers of Kelly Drive in 2012, when he took a radar gun to the roadway to test the power of its 35mph speed limit. What he discovered shocked even the police.

Of the estimated 700 vehicles clocked by the NewsWork radar-checkpoint locations, 174 vehicles were driving within 9 miles an hour of the speed limit while 297 vehicles were driving more than 50 miles an hour. A total of 70%of the cars recorded were driving at least 9mph over the speed limit.

The Philadelphia Police Department, although surprised with the frequency of speeding cars, is well aware of the speeding problem on Kelly Drive, stressing the danger of cars traveling 70mph in 25mph zones located right next to the walking path filled with pedestrians.

It’s obvious that reckless cycling is not the sole cause for concern on Kelly Drive, which creates an even bigger need for cooperative dialogue among the city about how to keep everyone safe and moving on their way, whether that way be car, bike, or foot.

Whatever the solution, the answer appears to be a bit more complicated than ‘get cyclists off the road,’ an attitude seen many times in some without a complete grasp of transportation laws and best safety practices.

Check out the Philadelphia Streets Department Rules of the Road page for more detail on PA’s bike laws.

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