One of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia’s advocacy campaigns over the past few years has been an increase in the capital and operating budgets for the Philadelphia Streets Department.
We have called for more money, and more employees who can do the actual work of paving, striping and installing infrastructure to begin cutting into Philadelphia 1000-mile backlog of streets that need to be repaved and work on the miles of bike lanes that need to be installed and maintained.
Mayor Kenney has responded and the budgets have been increased in the past two years.
But, unfortunately, it’s still not enough.
After two tragedies on Spruce Street last winter, Philadelphia’s bicycling community came together to call on the city to update the diminished bike lanes through Center City – among Philadelphia’s most-used by city cyclists—and, after a series of community meetings and City Council hearings, Council passed ordinances in late June to update the Spruce and Pine bike lanes, which include switching them to the left side of the street to increase cyclist visibility and to reduce right hooks, and protecting the intersections with delineator posts and green paint.
The Office of Transportation and Infrastructure (oTIS) initially said that the Streets Department would install the switched lanes and protected intersections when the streets were repaved this year.
Considerable community outreach was part of the project development process. We were confident that the City could get the job done before the end of 2018, recognizing that it was a tight time frame for a project involving four miles of streets.
Well. We were recently informed that, unfortunately, Spruce and Pine streets repaving will not occur this year.
Instead, we are told, the lanes will get their treatments first thing in Spring 2019.
This is disappointing. To say the least. Philly’s cyclists are frustrated with the lack of visible lines on what are supposed to be the city’s premier bike lanes.
We’ve heard about injuries taking place on the street, and are regularly sent videos from people on bikes who are negatively impacted by the street’s deteriorating infrastructure.
Bringing the streets into good state of repair, switching the lanes and protecting the intersections is a public safety matter for all users of those streets, but especially bicyclists. This delay inevitably perpetuates poor quality conditions and insufficient level of safety.