Thursday, July 29, 2010

Center City District Releases A Report On Bicycling North South Streets

Bike Lanes matter, that's the conclusion of the Center City District's study of AM Rush Hour bike traffic on northbound streets at the intersection of Spruce from 3rd to 22nd. The 22nd Street bike lane carried on average 209 bikes an hour - more than twice the number of the second busiest street 13th. Add up all the streets together and on average 790 bikes crossed Spruce Street in between 8 and 9 AM.

The report calls for "an entire system of management: bike lanes, rules of the road, traffic signals for both both cyclists and motorists, and real enforcement equally for all."

But the report was not all "Rah rah yay bikes!" a talking point for bike lanes was that they will "free up streets for motorists for whom bicyclists can pose an equally annoying hazard". As if being annoyed is the biggest issue that cyclists have with automobile traffic.

In the long run I hope that design roads using the teachings of Hans Monderman - the future of safe urban and village streets lies with shared spaces: no crosswalks, curbs, bike lanes or traffic lights.


Unknown said...

It has been my experience that motorists think bicyclists are permitted to ride ONLY in designated bike lanes. Several times a week I'm yelled at by passing motorists to use Spruce or Pine when my destination is in the opposite direction of those streets.

What does the Bicycling Coalition propose to do in a effort to educate motorists that bicyclists are permitted to ride on all roadways due to vary few designated bike lanes?

John Boyle said...

Our Bicycle Ambassadors work to educate all road users at events and other venues. They have produced a brochure "Tips for motorists in English and Spanish"

Educating motorists is a tall order that is a problem nationwide and until NHTSA (along with law enforcement) makes bicyclist/motorist education a priority we will be the ones doing what we can with our limited resources.

Alice said...

I bike Spruce and Pine on a regular basis and while they make travel easier on me I am constantly astounded by the number of cars, trucks, and moving vans stopped in the bike lane. I recall on one day seeing a large truck parked on Spruce at 2pm on my way home form work, that was still there at about 7pm when I was coming back from another trip down town. There are "no stopping" signs up but it seems like this is never enforced. What's the point of having a bike lane if it's full of parked trucks?

Unknown said...

this small report is very reasonable. however, traffic signals for both cyclists and motorists have already been implemented throughout philadelphia. they are usually referred to as traffic signals. full stop.

Unknown said...

I have noticed that on Sunday bike lanes on Spruce and Pine Streets have become parking spots for cars. I find this infuriating! Why, then, have designated bike lanes?

Sarah C. Stuart said...

The City's Bike/Pedestrian Coordinator circulated this email about this very topic.

The City of Philadelphia has a long tradition of allowing members of religious institutions to park in areas where parking is usually prohibited. Allowing members of churches and synagogues to park is perceived as a method of supporting those institutions and the services they provide to their communities. It also mitigates the impact that neighborhood residents experience from increased parking demand from the religious institutions.

When contemplating the bike lane pilot project last year, it was determined that the political feasibility of marking the bike lanes depended in part on preserving parking privileges for religious institutions. During public meetings we repeatedly heard that neighbors supported the bike lanes provided that the ability of people to park while attending services was maintained.

During that period, my personal observations and my discussions with representatives of churches and synagogues made me realize that the issue was more complex than just allowing people to park for an hour or two on Sunday mornings. Services on religious holidays can create unexpected parking during the week. Several Center City religious institutions generate a substantial amount of revenue from weddings, which are usually held on Saturday afternoons at churches and on Sunday afternoons at synagogues. As a result, parking , including parking of limousines, will frequently occur in the afternoon.

Like many residents, I was surprised by the parking demand in the late afternoon on Spruce and Pine Streets between 16th and 19th Streets. I was even more surprised when I found that almost all of the cars parked there before 6 PM had placards on them. Then I walked up the steps to Tenth Presbyterian Church and saw that the 6:15 service that Sunday was filled to standing room only.

The Streets Department, the Philadelphia Parking Authority and the religious institutions are in continuing discussions to see how parking along these streets can be contained.. For example, Tenth Presbyterian has arranged for off-street parking and has encouraged their members to use that parking. The Streets Department annually reviews the permitted conditions under which religious institutions may authorize their members to park in no parking zones, and will assure that those conditions are strictly limited to the times when services are actually being held.

I certainly understand that the practice of parking in the bike lanes limits the benefit that can be provided by the bike lanes. However, even when cars are parked on two or three blocks of a street with bike lanes, the provision of the bike lanes along the remainder of the street remains a major enhancement. The demands on Philadelphia’s streets are numerous. Sharing the road takes many forms, including the use of bike lanes for parking by members religious institutions.

I encourage all members of the Coalition to be polite and considerate regarding other roadway users. Thank you for your cooperation.
Charles Carmalt
Pedestrian & Bicycle Coordinator
Office of Transportation & Utilities
Municipal Services Bldg, Suite 1430
1401 John F Kennedy Blvd
Philadelphia, PA 19102