Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Bill We Can Live With

At the Streets and Services Committee hearing today, Councilman Greenlee made two key amendments to his bill for approving bike lanes. One narrows the requirement for Council approval to only bike lanes that require removal of a travel lane or a parking lane. The second amendment provides for the installation of pilots before a Council ordinance.

The amendments responded to concerns that we have been raising with Council members in conversations over the last week, concerns we repeated in testimony today. We are pleased that there is now a more formal process for City Council approval and, while it is not structured the way we would prefer, we are no longer opposed to the bill.

The process for installing a bike lane that requires removal of a traffic lane will now be a public outreach process followed by the installation of a pilot. Within eight months of installing the pilot, City Council must pass an ordinance approving the bike lane or the bike lane will be removed. This is the same process that is used when Streets proposes reversing the direction of a street.

We do not think it should be necessary to pass a bill in order to install something that dramatically improves safety for all street users. But given the popularity of Philadelphia's existing bike lanes and their documented role in reducing motor vehicle crashes, we believe that a pilot period will demonstrate the utility of new bike lanes.

Councilman Squilla also announced at the hearing his intention to introduce legislation, based on recommendations made by the Bicycle Coalition, that will codify the city's Complete Streets policy and amend Philadelphia's traffic code to explicitly ban dooring, parking in bike lanes, and several other fixes that will bring our traffic code in line with national best practices for bicyclists.

Thank you to all the bicyclists and engaged citizens who took time from their days to attend today's hearing and to contact City Council. Your involvement is critical to keeping Philadelphia on track in the process of making our streets safer for all users.


Anonymous said...

If there were a bill up for vote, and the bill were City Council should, for some reason, need to pass an ordinance to approve changes to the direction of the street, I would do my best to ask my council person to vote that bill down.

I'd like to think that the city planners and civic engineers that work for the City would have all this stuff under control, would do pilots, community outreach, run the models showing what the affects of the street change would be. I feel much more confident having me one way street changes (how random!) or my bike lanes, which can only happen once every 20 years, in the hands of civic engineers who've got the training and experience to really understand what these changes mean, than in the hands of elected Representatives.

Bike lanes belong in the hands of engineers, not politicians. I'm disappointed in the BCP's positive and cooperative position.