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On Tuesday, Three Positive Bike Lane Meetings

A board from the Washington Square West Civic Association Meeting (via Jameson Gitto)

There were three meetings throughout Center City, Philadelphia, on Tuesday, regarding bike infrastructure.

All the meetings went objectively well, and will help move Philadelphia in the direction of a better, safer, connected network throughout Center City.

Logan Square Neighborhood Association

Charlotte Castle, Chris Pulchalsky and Gus Scheerbaum from OTIS and the Streets Department presented to Logan Square Neighborhood Association’s monthly meeting about the results of the JFK/Market Street bike lane pilot project.

They reported the following project’s initial findings:

  • Vehicular speeds on JFK and Market have been reduced by 35 percent while maintaining constant vehicular traffic and travel time for cars and buses.
  • Center City District’s poll of 600 workers and residents found that 74 percent said that crossing the streets feel safer or just as safe and 76 percent support a permanent change to the streets.

Enabling legislation to make the lanes permanent to be introduced by Council President Darrell Clarke, is still needed.

If this legislation passes, oTIS and Streets intends to design the next version of the bike lanes in Spring 2019 and install it in Fall 2019.

Penn Center and Kennedy House do support a permanent change, although they do not want the lane on the 1900 block of JFK Boulevard to be protected.

The LSNA Board voted unanimously in favor of submitting a letter of non-opposition to Council President Darrell Clarke for making the bike lanes permanent.

Washington Square West Civic Association

The Washington West Civic Association held a meeting to hear more about planned-protected infrastructure along 10th and 13th Streets in Center City. Members of the Office of Transportation, Infrastructure and Sustainability presented on the idea for protected bike lanes through Washington West, which would connect to protected blocks through Midtown Village, Chinatown, and other neighborhoods.

As cyclists know all too well, the bike lanes on 13th and 10th Streets in Center City are regularly blocked by motor vehicles, especially Julius Silvert food delivery trucks, the drivers of which seem to have an open contempt for the cyclists whose lives they endanger.

But Philadelphia’s Bicycling and Pedestrian Coordinator, Jeannette Brugger, set the tone for the meeting early on when she noted such loading practices would not stand. “There is a lot of active loading in the bike lane,” she noted at the meeting’s onset. “That’s not going to work when there is a protected bike lane.”

About 50 people attended the meeting, the vast majority of whom supported protected bike lanes through the neighborhood. OTIS asked meeting attendees to vote using stickers. And the sticker count was overwhelmingly positive.

Image via Jameson Gitto

A vote was not held, but OTIS has requested a letter of support from the neighborhood civic association.

Center City Residents Association

In a meeting regarding the parking-protected bike lanes on JFK and Market Streets, Center City Residents Association’s board voted unanimously in favor of making the protected bike lane pilot project permanent.

“There were a few concerns about snow removal, but otherwise, the response has been very positive,” Margaret Mund, CCRA’s Board President, told the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia after the meeting. “We supported the pilot and think it’s going well.”

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Topics: Biking in Philly, Featured, Vision Zero

One comment on “On Tuesday, Three Positive Bike Lane Meetings

  1. John Baxter

    I’m a little puzzled by the statement that vehicular speeds on JFK and Market have been reduced by 35 percent, while travel times are constant. This seems to be a contradiction in terms and I strongly suspect misinterpretation of the data. Were speeds reduced by 35 percent, travel times would almost HAVE to increase, unless it’s all about light-to-light racing. Further, I strongly suspect that being happy with such a decrease in speed is a disservice to motorists and represents a complete failure to understand traffic engineering–the science that should be applied here. Much data including studies of car-pedestrian crashes suggests that the distribution of speeds versus crash causes is such that a 35 percent reduction in speed is quite inappropriate and unnecessary, and is merely frustrating most drivers without an equivalent percentage reduction in the number of vehicles actually operating at dangerous speeds. Yes, I agree, some people do speed and, yes, they should be slowed–I’m not opposed to curing that problem at all. But, chances are very high that the people who really need to be slowed are in a much smaller minority and that some sort of far more selective means than lane elimination would be far fairer and far more acceptable. Although many motorist advocates I know hate speed cameras, proper use of such technology (i.e. accurate cameras set for a truly safety-relevant speed, with not-guilty pleas being properly adjudicated) would likely be far preferable to lane eliminations. These observations are underscored by the fact that a few weeks ago, late at night, I took JFK to get to the Schuylkill from Center City. At around 11:00 PM I drove out a road that used to have 3 auto lanes, but now has two, with nobody using the bike lanes. It sure seems to me that this is an inappropriate use of the road space, considering that bikes are much narrower than cars, and the relatively small percentage of road users likely on bikes. How about 3 slightly narrower auto lanes, and a bike lane? Further, you are arguing that the approval of local civic associations are what counts. That is an important input, but these are not local roads. The users of the road who come from Valley Forge or Cherry Hill also need to be consulted and the bigger picture considered. As far as trucks being unloaded in bike lanes, I am also sympathetic, and if this is really an attitude problem, I agree these guys should be ticketed and towed. However, there is an old saying that you get more flies with honey than with poop. Is there really another place where these trucks can be unloaded? Perhaps the solution is to find a way to provide for this. You can’t expect a city to run without trucks delivering food and other consumables, and you can’t expect drivers to carry boxes 300 feet to unload. Redesigning the streets to truly provide for all users, or finding an alternative like alleyways, is what is essential. It’s not just about bikes and pedestrians, it’s about all of every road and street’s users!

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