On Thursday, State Sen. Larry Farnese sent a letter to the Chairpeople of the Senate Transportation Committee, calling for a vote on Senate Bill 565, which would allow for more flexibility to install protected bike lanes and pedestrian plazas along state-owned roads.
Farnese (D-Phila) is the prime sponsor of the Senate version of the bill, and has an enormous stake in making sure the citizens of Philadelphia are allowed the safest infrastructure available when bicycling, walking, or driving in the city.
“Without immediate action on this bill, PennDOT will repave our roads during the 2019 season without Pedalcycle Lanes that provide the highest quality of safety to bicyclists, pedestrians, and drivers,” Farnese’s letter reads. “If we fail to act on SB 565 we risk the loss of several major bike lane projects funded for construction this year. Therefore, we must act now in order to decrease the amount of bicycle fatalities in our state, increase the safety of all individuals on our roads, and to make sure we appropriately use taxpayer dollars for future road paving projects.”
The projects at risk include Lindberg Ave., Parkside Ave., the Chestnut Street Bridge, 5th Street and 6th Street, the latter two projects of which are in Farnese’s district and would create a safer commute for hundreds of cyclists traveling to and from work, school, errands, or recreation, daily.
Farnese’s letter went directly to State Sen. Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland) and State Sen. John Sabatina, the majority and minority chairs, respectively, of the Senate Transportation Committee.
The Bicycle Coalition has worked with members of the state Legislature, PennDOT, the City of Philadelphia, Bike Pittsburgh, and dozens of other bike groups around the state, to advocate for passage of this legislation.
On Monday, June 10, Bicycle Coalition staff was in the state Capitol when the House version of the bill, sponsored by State Rep. Paul Maloney (R-Berks), passed the House Transportation Committee, unanimously.
We have been told the House version of the legislation will be up for second consideration on June 25, and third (and final) consideration June 26th.
This legislation has passed the House before, just to die in the Senate. That’s why we’re optimistic to see State Sen. Farnese putting pressure on the Senate Transportation Committee to get this legislation through and made into law.
If you haven’t yet, please thank Sen. Farnese on Twitter (@larryfarnese) for championing this legislation, and use this post to call your state representative, asking them to vote YES on HB 792 when it comes up for a vote.