The future is officially here, two of the Philadelphia’s busiest intersections are now equipped with city’s first-ever bicycle traffic lights.
The signals were installed at 16th and Market streets and 20th Street and JFK Boulevard earlier this week. The new signals create a window of time for bikes to cross the intersection with pedestrians in addition to the traffic patterns they previously followed.
The new lights come a month after overnight construction began changing bikes lanes and street parking on Market and JFK. Both projects are backed by a comprehensive Vision Zero strategy that looks to eliminate traffic-related deaths by 2030.
The pilot bike lane program is also in the process of reducing the number of lanes on JFK and Market from four to three in an attempt to reduce speeding and weaving. The widened bike lane will hug the curb and the reduced lane will be used for street parking, creating a buffer between cyclists and moving cars.
A similar design has already been implemented along Chestnut Street in University City.
The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia’s involvement in the Vision Zero alliance has been a big factor in efforts towards rider safety.
Bicycle traffic lights have been popping up all across the United States in recent years. Denver, New York, San Francisco and Washington are some of the major cities to previously adopt this technology, according to the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NATCO). It is more common across Europe and in China.
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As part of the Vision Zero initiative, the city is cracking down on the 12 percent of Philadelphia streets that account for 50 percent of traffic deaths and severe injuries.
Philadelphia has a higher traffic deaths per capita rate than Los Angeles, double the amount of New York, and triple the amount of Boston, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Bicycle traffic is one of the main factors leading to these issues throughout the city. As the Vision Zero group continues to advocate changes in traffic safety, the implementation of bicycle traffic lights is likely to spread throughout Philadelphia in coming months.