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The City has unveiled for public comment three options for re-imagining Washington Avenue’s next 10 years.  And in each option, protected bike lanes are part of the plan.

This is a big deal, as Washington Avenue is a critical component of the city’s High Quality Bicycle Network and is undoubtedly part of Mayor Kenney’s pledge to install 40 miles of protected bike lanes by 2025. It’s also part of the Bicycle Coalition’s Hub and Spoke proposal.  The design chosen will be the Washington Avenue that we get until 2031.

For those interested in its history, between 2013 and 2015, meetings and planning efforts were held to devise a new configuration of Washington Avenue.  In the Fall of 2015, the last public meeting was held at the Rock Dance School to learn from the community about their view on various proposals. Strong sentiments were expressed by over 300 who attended.

Effectively, the outcome was that more data and analysis about parking and loading, traffic management and community outreach was needed to inform the design. City Councilmembers Mark Squilla and Kenyatta Johnson each contributed resources to help cover the cost of detailed parking and loading studies.

Three new options (Options A, B and C) for laying out the street’s pavement marking were developed by the Office of Transportation Infrastructure & Sustainability (oTIS). They introduced the options to 22 community groups and RCOs during Winter 2020.

For the record, we believe Option A is the best for Washington Avenue. But we encourage you to decide for yourself.

Why Option A is the best option:
  • Consistency. Option A is consistently 3 lanes east of 12th St and West of 16th St. Having a single lane in each direction reduces the opportunities for motorists to speed as drivers can only legally travel as fast as the slowest driver in front of them.
  • Best for pedestrians: It greatly reduces the pedestrian crossing areas in the 3 lane segments and widens the sidewalk. This is particularly important in the vicinity of the Italian Market. Sidewalk widening also presents an opportunity to spruce up the streetscape of the corridor.
  • Best for bicycle commuters: Washington Avenue is a key east west corridor in the City. US Census Data shows that Washington Ave corridor between Broad and 6th St from Christian to Wharton has the highest percentage of bike commuters in Philadelphia with 19% of workers commuting by bicycle. Driving alone is the only mode of transport that is more popular than bicycling. Along with the protected bike lanes on South 11th St, a 3 lane option for Washington Avenue  gives bike commuters the highest quality infrastructure possible.

oTIS has created this series of short videos explaining the details of the project. We strongly recommend that you watch the videos before taking the survey.  The videos will guide you through the project and explain details of all three layout options. They will also explain the planned parking and loading changes.

After you watch the videos, take this survey The survey will be live until July 1st 2020.

Questions and comments on the Washington Avenue Repaving and Improvement Project can be directed to VisionZero@phila.gov, or text or call (215) 436-9886.

Sarah Clark Stuart

Author

Sarah’s foray into trail and bicycle advocacy began in 2004 when she became involved in the “Free Schuylkill River Park” campaign to preserve public access to the Schuylkill River Trail in Center City, now known as Schuylkill Banks. Since joining the Bicycle Coalition in 2006, she has been a key player in the Bicycle Coalition’s key accomplishments: the $23 million TIGER trail-building grant; naming and building out the Circuit; lobbying successfully for legislation mandating the inclusion of bike parking in new construction projects; Philadelphia’s Complete Streets policy; and coordinating research and analysis of several reports on bicycling in Philadelphia.

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