The Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities could have great news for Center City bikers but the news might not be so welcomed by drivers in the city.
The city is proposing a plan that will create bike lanes on 10th and 13th Streets to alleviate “sidewalk riding” and give bikers their own space. The same type of lanes are already in place on Spruce and Pine Streets.
Philadelphia has been named one of the most bicycled cities in America averaging twice as many bike commuters as any other big city in the country, according to the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia.
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“Who needs sun and beaches when cheesesteaks can power folks in South Philly to bicycle at about the same rate as Santa Barbara,” said Alex Doty, Executive Director of the Bicycle Coalition.
Statistics from the Bicycle Coalition and the U.S. Census show that bike lanes lead to better cycling behavior, especially higher-quality bike lanes.
“Bike lanes are essential to end the scourge of sidewalk riding... Add a buffered bike lane and the rate of sidewalk riding on Spruce and Pine is eight times lower than on streets with no bike lanes,” explained Bicycle Coalition Research Director John Boyle.
At a community meeting held Tuesday night by the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities to discuss the bike lane project, supporters of the project emphasized the importance of bike enforcement and the balance between motorists and cyclists.
The Bicycle Coalition emphasized the importance of the bike lane project.
“Building a connected bikeway network along important cross-city corridors, such as installing buffered bike lanes on 10th and 13th in Center City, is key to making Philadelphia’s streets safer for everyone,” said Bicycle Coalition Campaign Director Sarah Clark Stuart.
"We have the potential to be one of the best bicycling cities in the country," said Doty after the community meeting.
But the decision to expand bike lanes could be met with criticism from drivers concerned about congestion and the accuracy of biking trends.
Already clogged, after one of the two traffic lanes is surrendered to bikes, those arteries will look like those of someone who eats fettuccine Alfredo for breakfast, fried chicken for lunch and supersized Big Macs for dinner. You think Chinatown's traffic is a mess now? Just wait until late June, when the changes begin.
The city's misleading news release said the bike lanes are being added to meet "record demands," claiming that "more than 15 percent of residents in some South Philadelphia and North Philadelphia Census tracts choose to bike to work," according to 2005-09 American Community Survey data. Wow! That's huge! The most recent Census estimate of bike commuting I knew of was 1.6 percent.
Bike lanes are set to be in place by late June, according to the Inquirer.