Having just issued our report documenting that Philadelphia has twice as many bike commuters as any other big city in the US, I have spent a lot of time this week making the argument that we need the new north-south bike lanes in Center City to meet current demand. But crash statistics just released by PennDOT make a compelling new argument for buffered bike lanes -- they keep motorists out of the hospital. Significant crashes, those that cause a trip to the hospital or enough damage to the car to require a tow truck, are down 45% on Spruce and Pine streets in the last year.
The Streets Department has documented little to no impact on average travel times for the length of Spruce and Pine. But what has happened is a reduction in the speed of the fastest cars. And chances are that is one of the key factors in reducing the number of people -- motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists -- that have ended up in the hospital.
So, the next time a motorist is questioning the wisdom of "taking away one of my lanes" you can answer, "Because I want to keep you out of the hospital."