Center City cyclists who swerve through traffic and squeeze through moving cars will have a less dangerous option for a route across town later this summer when the Streets Department implements two new bike lanes. The north and south lanes (linking Spring Garden and South Streets) will complement the current east and west lanes on Spruce and Pine.
When we talked to The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, they said there is a bigger need for bike lanes east of Broad Street since there already is a lane that runs south along 22nd Street. The new bike lanes, modeled after the current Spruce/Pine project, will be six-feet-wide with a three-foot buffer between one-way one-lane traffic and the closing of one lane of traffic for construction.
Neighbors and drivers who do not want the lanes to affect their commute will oppose this project, says John Boyle, research director at the Bicycle Coalition. The controversial Brooklyn two-way bike lane in Prospect Park spurred local residents to fund a study hoping to prove the negative impact on the area. The study, however, found the Prospect Park West Bike Lane actually had a positive impact on the area. Philadelphia’s own Crosstown Connector pilot project findings showed that bikes lanes do slow traffic, but car traffic is flowing more smoothly and orderly and there are less accidents caused by speeding.
The Philly bike-lovers we talked to said that even though it was “cool” that new lanes are planned, they would continue their traffic acrobatics through cars if the new lanes are out of the way on a given ride. (Got to give it to them for their honesty.) Bike lanes or not, bikers beware: according to Andrew Stober, chief-of-staff for deputy mayor Rita Cutler, a grant from the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention will fund “an unprecedented level of traffic and safety enforcement” this spring and summer and police will target “dangerous, aggressive and reckless” motorists and cyclists.
The implementation of additional bike lanes is the next step in the city’s ongoing Pedestrian and Bicycle Plan to improve commuting culture citywide and to meet and balance the demands of 21st-century Philadelphians and her guests. Announcements about the location of lanes will be made to neighborhood association leaders before the general public, said Stober.