Philadelphia leaders heard from the public about the city's plan to protect cyclists (and bicycle lanes) along two busy downtown streets.
The city’s Office of Transportation & Infrastructure Systems held a “Public Listening Session” Monday night at The Philadelphia School to discuss creating separated bike lanes along Lombard and South streets.
Under the plan, flexible vertical posts would separate bike and vehicular traffic from 22nd to 27th Street along Lombard and 21st to 27th Street on South as well as 27th Street between the two busy roads.
It would also repaint crosswalks and existing bike lanes and shorten how far pedestrians would walk to clear vehicle traffic.
Organizers planned the event to give people the opportunity to ask questions at an informal discussion about the coming change.
Emotions for and against the plan run high. Fliers have begun popping up in the southwest Center City neighborhood complaining that the lane posts would prevent drivers from being able to use the bike lane for loading and unloading as well as passing stopped vehicles when a cyclist isn’t in the lanes. Detractors claim the bike lanes could add to traffic congestion.
One of the detractors, Eleanor Siegal, told NBC10 she uses a walker and worries about how she'll get in and out of taxis near her daughter's home if the posts are put up.
"I think they should put their efforts some place else," she said.
Bill Logan, who owns a funeral home in the city, told NBC10 he uses the bike lane to line up processions.
"With this we're basically being forced out of business," he said.
Supporters of the plan say it can't hurt to test the idea out however.
"You could probably quintuple the number of people using bikes," Bill West, a cyclist, said.
The Streets Department says protected bike lanes are safer, can encourage more residents to hop on a bike and reduce the number of people who ride on the sidewalk.
The city says that parking and loading can still take place on streets with the protected bicycle lanes by adjusting the space between each plastic post.
Though bike lane supporters and detractors were invited to the discussion, the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia reminded people on its blog that the meeting was not a debate.
If the city council approves the plan, the protected bike lanes would go up in the areas along Lombard and South for six months at some point next year. Other cities like New York, Chicago and Pittsburgh already have the protected bike lanes.