On Friday, December 9, the city’s Office of Transportation and Infrastructure Systems released a statement on its Facebook page, noting we would likely not be seeing protected bike lanes on Spruce and Pine Streets in Center City in 2017.
“City staff is finalizing a feasibility study for protected bike lanes for 2017,” the post states. “While waiting for final funding confirmation, staff will begin working with neighborhoods on specific bike lane locations in early 2017. Pine and Spruce Streets are not identified for 2017 implementation.”
This was not a total surprise. Such infrastructure changes require community input, which OTIS has been gathering at several civic meetings and will be gathering tonight at the Washington West Civic Association meeting. Additionally, only some of the funds have been secured by the city. OTIS is still waiting on a Transportation Alternatives Program grant from the State of Pennsylvania.
To recap, the city applied for a TAP grant for new protected bike lanes from the DVRPC (which was granted in April) and a TAP grant from PennDOT (which has not been granted yet).
OTIS can’t unveil its plans about which corridors or which designs it wants to propose until the TAP grant from the state is announced. That’s why OTIS is only having “listening sessions” with civic associations right now — and not proposing specific upgrades.
The announcement of the first grant and the listening sessions have led to some rumors, even if that wasn’t the intention. In some cases, community groups have already expressed opposition. Which is strange because not a single plan has been presented yet. By anyone.
But that’s not the extent to the blatant false information that’s been floating out there.
For instance: We’ve been told or have heard from third parties that members of OTIS were also staff of the Bicycle Coalition (not true) and were being paid by the Bicycle Coalition (not true), and that the Bicycle Coalition would potentially support a bike lane that blocks ambulances and other emergency vehicles (not true), and that the city had planned on installing the bike lane in secret (not true) any day now (not possible).
As it stands, the Bicycle Coalition doesn’t have a position on the OTIS’ plan. Why? Because the plan hasn’t been proposed yet.
Those attending tonight’s Washington West Civic meeting may get some further clarification. But, more likely, such clarity will have to await PennDOT’s decision on the second TAP grant in 2017.