Monday, July 13, 2009

Coming Soon - Bike Lanes for Spruce and Pine

Our January 10th post - Dreaming of a bike friendly Spruce and Pine presented a long talked about 'what if' scenario, especially in light of the Bicycle Coalition's documentation that bicycling in Philadelphia doubled between 2005 and 2008. Thanks to the pro-bicycle Nutter Administration, the City of Philadelphia has adopted this vision and is planning to make it a reality. Not sometime in the future, but this summer!

Our understanding is that a one way buffered bike lane will be installed in both Spruce and Pine Streets along most of their lengths, made possible by the dropping of a travel lane. Clearly, when implemented, it will be the most significant bicycle friendly improvement in busy Center City since the opening of Schuylkill River Park Trail and street level crossings in 2003. It will also be the City's first (but we hope for additional ones north of Market St.) "river to river and east-west connector" set of bicycle friendly streets.

The reduction of travel (for motor vehicles) lanes may be a concern to some, however more road space does not necessarily mean smoother traffic flow. Delivery vehicles, utility trucks and double parkers already cause Spruce and Pine to function as weaving single lane streets. A great example of less is more would be the closing of Broadway in Manhattan, which actually improved north south traffic flow by eliminating Broadway's angled cross street interference.


spruce-pine_overhead

6 foot bike lanes with 2 foot buffers on Spruce and Pine Streets will finally make the concept of a Center City bikeway a reality.

The project, overseen by the Mayor's Office of Transportation and carried out by the Streets Department, will be a simple and inexpensive line painting operation; construction could begin as soon as August. Over the next 9 months or so the streets will be evaluated, and if the lanes are proven to be beneficial, then permanent striping will be added when the streets are repaved in 2010.
Read more about this in Sandy Bauer's piece in 07/15/09 edition of Inquirer

33 comments:

Dan said...

The weekend morning runners will love these bike lanes. Soon we will have runners traveling in both directions on both Pine and Spruce St.

Anonymous said...

I suppose this is a good thing. I mean, people will still park in the right-most lane... Is it preferable that they're blocking a bike-only lane versus a traffic lane?

Jesse said...

Great news and great work! I'm sure there will be a (long) transition period, with vehicles still using the lane, parking, etc. But this is a huge step!

Katie said...

I hope that the city will be enforcing the correct usage of this lane for everyone's safety!

Ticketing cars parked in the bike lane, drivers passing in it, and bicyclists biking the wrong direction would need to occur for this to be sustainable. But it surely beats the Lombard St highway that most bikers use now...

Stevie Weevie said...

One way to keep cars from using bike lanes as passing lanes is to grade separate them from the car lanes. A bit more involved construction, but if they plan to repave the street anyway, then it is possibly just a matter of funds.

the3:00book said...

I ride Spruce already, primarily because there are few buses and never that much traffic. Adding a bike lane here is perfect!

Anonymous said...

any thoughts on how deliveries will be handled? Trucks, vans, etc. will still need to make stops along this busy street to various businesses. If we assume that it will be illegal for them to double park in the newly created bike lane, how will the deliveries be made without significantly backing up traffic?

Jonathan Bringhurst said...

Anonymous: Shouldn't deliveries be handled with loading zones?

The trucks that double park while making deliveries are already breaking the law. New bike lanes have nothing to do with that.

This would make it more obvious to other cars that the law is being broken. Cyclists already know that double parked trucks cause a seriously hazardous situation. This (hopefully) would turn a life threatening situation to cyclists into a non-hazardous delay for cars.

Taggart said...

Yes! Yes! Yes! Finally!

Everyone who is for this, I suggest writing Mayor Nutter and Deputy Cutler a quick thank you! I'm gonna.

Tanya said...

Will there be loading zones in the parking lane?

Will police respect the lane and not park in it for their own convenience? (as in 22nd at Lombard)

caduceus said...

Well, all difficulties with double parkers and incorrect lane users aside: WOO HOO!!!!!!!!!


Thank you Mayor Nutter and the BCP!

paul drzal said...

regrading so the bike lane is at a higher elevation would be great, but i think it would cause for railing or protective barriers, which may be unsightly and way more expensive.

good to see progress though!

Matt said...

I am very happy to hear we are doing something to positively effect cycling in Philadelphia. I am dismayed that it seems to be a half step. The bike lanes in New York are truly inspiring. There is no issue of delivery trucks or enforcement because there is a raised median separating car traffic from bike traffic. This is what we should push for in Philadelphia. Based on the history of the already designated bike lanes here, we have absolutely no reason to think that law enforcement will enforce traffic laws in regard to these new bike lanes. Please, let's try and add this to the discussion while we still have the ear of the Nutter administration. Thank you BCGP.

Matt said...

Okay, slowly learning to read fully before I speak. After looking at the linked proposal, I am very glad to see the 9th Ave. model proposed. I think the bike lane separated by parked cars and raised markers is the safe and reasonable solution. Again, thank you for your efforts.

rblacksberg said...

Parking on the north side of Spruce Street during religious services contributes significantly to the communities of Congregation Beth Zion Beth Israel (18th and Spruce), 10th Presbyterian Church (17th and Spruce) and Society Hill Synagogue (418 Spruce). As a cyclist, I welcome the focus on our needs for safe riding. We hope that the Pine and Spruce Street plans can also accommodate these important community needs.

John said...

Actually Matt you were right the first time, but the lane is buffered and therefore will be significantly wider than the rest of the 200 miles of bike lanes in the city. We think that wider streets such as Spring Garden and JFK Blvd are more appropriate candidates for physically separated bike lanes.

Illegal parking and other vehicle incursions will happen as they do everywhere else. It's important that we report these places where the lanes are chronically blocked to 311. The squeaky wheel...

Anonymous said...

Just for clarification: Will there be some repaving on Spruce Street? Between at least 9th and Broad there are serious potholes, cracks, bumps, etc. They make the bike ride down Spruce less desirable for me than say Walnut even though Walnut is overcrowded with traffic.

Sarah C. Stuart said...

The Bicycle Ambassadors are going to do a "sweep" of Spruce and Pine to identify major street defects next week. The Bicycle Coalition will share that information with the Streets Dept. and ask them to try and fix as many as most severe problems as possible before the painting of the lanes begins. But, the major repaving of the streets won't occur until next year. At that time, if this pilot project is considered successful, higher quality paint will be used to repaint the lanes after the resurfacing.

Anonymous said...

Is there any word on a south heading bike lane in the works? It's the only direction not represented and would help bikers to et safely across the city.

Anonymous said...

While this seems like a victory for cyclists, I think it is a mistake. A dedicated bike lane is too much of a concession for vehicular traffic, which probably outnumbers cyclists by 100 fold - with whom they would now split 50 percent of the road. And the Broadway-Manhattan comparison does not remotely parallel this situation.

Anonymous said...

Assuming that the issue with loading and unloading zones is addressed correctly (i've never seen these on Spruce or Pine and I bike the segment regularly), vehicular traffic should only minimally be effected. Currently, the second lane is generally used for loading and loading, causing traffic to flow in a single lane. So, creating the dedicated bike lane is really only formalizing a traffic pattern that already exists....

Dr. Rudolph Masciantonio said...

This sounds like very good news to me. Have folks noticed how aggressive and rude motorists currently are on Pine and Spruce St.? I bike on both streets regularly and can attest to the wrecklessness of motorists on these streets and their tendency to yell obscenities at bikers.

Anonymous said...

When are arrogant bicyclists going to start obeying traffic laws, like yielding to pedestrians and stopping at red lights and stop signs?

You're not special. The law applies to you too!

Anonymous said...

I'll stop at stop signs when cars learn to stop at stop signs.

I'm at a loss to understand why cars are so bothered by bikes. Explain how a bicycle can possible hurt a car.

Jonathan Bringhurst said...

Car drivers tend to be frustrated driving in the city in general (including myself when I drive in the city).

Take a look at any car commercial and note the driving conditions. Drivers are always shown to be in an ideal car environment -- driving on a road alone with a beautiful sunset in the distance for example.

In reality, this promise of a driving utopia is broken. There are endless double parked trucks, traffic, potholes, and yes, even those "annoying" cyclists zooming by their $30,000 car and getting to their destination quicker, and with no parking problems.

This breeds malcontent between drivers and cyclists; sometimes even if the drivers are the cyclists.

Dan Pohlig said...

"A dedicated bike lane is too much of a concession for vehicular traffic, which probably outnumbers cyclists by 100 fold - with whom they would now split 50 percent of the road."

@anonymous: The BCGP can probably cite some statistics about the percentage of commutes that are made in Center City by bikes vs. cars and I'm sure the difference wouldn't be a "100 fold." But even it were, cars still have Lombard, South, Locust, Walnut, Sansom, Chestnut, Market, JFK, Arch... so I think they'll be ok. Two full lanes on Spruce and Pine are very little to ask for.

Anonymous said...

this is horrendous news - i live on this street and i DO NOT want a bike lane messing up traffic, causing construction, and resulting in LESS and less people wanting to visit me and/or visit philly in general. Isnt it bad enough that were making parking meters 25 cents for 8 mins? we now have to take away lanes that are used for parking? Doesnt philly care at all about the residents on that street?

Jonathan Bringhurst said...

@anonymous (8:57AM)

As for messing up traffic, from my experiences from driving down that street, the traffic pattern is one lane anyway. Too many people like to drive in the middle to consider that a two lane street for cars. If anything, this will make traffic more organized.

How do bike lanes cause construction? I would think that it would reduce construction. Bikes are easier on the road, and the roads will require less maintenance, thus less construction.

I've had more people want to visit the city after I tell them about the bike lane. It makes the city more enjoyable when you can walk around and see more bikes instead of cars.

Parking is *always* an issue in the city, and there's always someone who's going to complain about it. Unless we turn half of the city into a parking garage, we're not going to solve the parking issue. How about using your bike instead? I hear you can park like 30 bikes into a spot where only one car can fit. That might help your parking issue.

The parking meter topic issue is a red herring.

If Philly didn't care about the residents, they wouldn't be trying to improve the streets.

Anonymous said...

What happened to the idea of cross-city E/W bike lanes on SpringGarden? Seems like there is more room for it to work there.

Anonymous said...

As both a bicycle enthusiast and Society Hill resident (who depends on street parking) I think the lanes are a bad idea. Too many residents and businesses depend on stopping in one lane to unload their vehicles (myself included) to make a safe lane that will be enforced and not encroach on the quality of life of the actual residents of the neighborhood (as opposed to commuters using it as a through-way).

Anonymous said...

I think its great to see the city take another step in the direction of embracing bicycle traffic. Its easier on the city, its better for the environment and its healthier for all of us. Its interesting to me that people are complaining about losing a few lanes of traffic considering the thousands in this city already dedicated to motor vehicles. Riding around this city on a bicycle is dangerous enough with how reckless motorists tend to be. This will make everyone safer. Of course there are always going to be idiots on both sides of the equation, but not all cyclists flaunt traffic rules, and the same goes for motorists. The difference is on a bicycle you are going slow enough to be able to tell if there is traffic approaching that intersection a lot easier than in a car, which is why a lot of bikers do it. Not saying its safe or a good habit, but it happens and as long as you're cautious and not trying to sprint through intersections you can't see then I don't see the big deal.

Anonymous said...

This is ridiculous. I am a firefighter in the area and we have a tough enough time getting around the city without the added congestion. Now that 2 engines in the area have closed we are doing over twice as many runs. I am a biker myself and I think that this is just an awful idea. I bike all over up in the northeast but I don't live close enough to have biking into center city for work as an option

@Anonymous said...
I'll stop at stop signs when cars learn to stop at stop signs.

I'm at a loss to understand why cars are so bothered by bikes. Explain how a bicycle can possible hurt a car.

Yea, two wrongs don't make a right. You are one of the reasons that auto drivers get pissed off at us bikers. A bike doesn't necessarily have to hurt a car, the driver of the car could be trying to avoid the bike and get involved in an entirely different accident and if he does hit the bike, the driver of the car has to deal with the fact that he probably mangled you because you couldn't stop at a stop sign. Im sure that you never tried maneuvering a 2 ton fire truck around a bike that decided to veer in front of you with traffic on one side and parked cars on the other. It is not fun yet it happens everyday.

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