Image via Philly MOTU

Image via Philly MOTU

Philadelphia has a new contraflow bike lane in West Philadelphia on Civic Center Boulevard. Like its predecessor on 30th St., the contraflow lane allows bikes to access points north without having to detour around the one-way southbound blocks of Civic Center Boulevard. The contraflow lane provides a safer way to do this.

The contraflow lane is part of a larger construction project on Civic Center Boulevard and the pieces didn’t all come together at once. The original white striping caused a bit of confusion. Some drivers mistook the contraflow lane for a parking lane and enforcement personnel at the medical center weren’t clear how to proceed.

An electronic sign was also misguidedly placed in the contraflow lane and cars were blocking cyclists’ way earlier this year. We are happy to report that the concerns early adopters expressed have been addressed in record time.

The University of Pennsylvania Department of Safety, Department of Transportation and Police Department were very responsive to our requests to meet and address our safety concerns. The City’s Streets Department and Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities also jumped in to help create a safer environment through infrastructure improvements and education.

The contraflow lane now has a double yellow line to alert both people in cars and on bicycles that the line is not to be crossed. The electronic sign is gone. The Penn Police are also aware of the need for added enforcement and education regarding proper use of the contraflow lane.

Jeannette Brugger, the City’s Bicycle-Pedestrian Coordinator from the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities produced the fact sheet shown below as part of the public outreach and education plan.

Contraflow Lane

Many users have never seen a contraflow lane and there will be a period of acclimation as people learn exactly what this new striping means and how to behave. As the construction project continues, we hope to see further improvement. Here are added the features we have suggested for safety:

  • Wrong way signs at the end of the contraflow lane at Convention Avenue to prevent bicycles from traveling the wrong direction in the Contraflow lane.
  • Southbound bicycles should utilize the southbound bike lane on the west side of Civic Center Boulevard.
  • Flexible delineator posts or other physical barrier between the contraflow lane and vehicular traffic.
  • No Stopping signs to replace No Standing signs.
  • An extension of the left hand bike lane that leads to the contraflow lane all the way to University Avenue.
  • Activation of the traffic light at Civic Center Boulevard and Convention Avenue.

We will keep you posted about progress on these items. But for now, go out and enjoy this new innovative infrastructure that increases both safety and accessibility on this busy, complex street.

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