Thursday, May 24, 2012

City Council Committee Votes Tuesday On Bike Lanes: Two Steps Forward or One Step Back?

Twenty-four serious motor vehicle crashes (where a person
is taken to the hospital or a car has to be towed) are
prevented each year by the bike lanes on Spruce and Pine.
Members of City Council say the Streets Department needs to formalize its process for community notification and incorporating public comment into new bike lane proposals. We agree. 

To address this problem, Councilman Greenlee has proposed that City Council must pass an ordinance to install a bike lane. We do not agree. 

No other city in this country requires a bicycle lane to wait for a law to be passed by the local legislative body. Philly should not be the first.

Please come to the Streets & Services Committee hearing on Tuesday at 1:00pm in room 400 of City Hall to express your support for our sensible proposal for a formal review process that doesn’t tie bike lanes up in red tape. And cheer loudly in support of incorporating Complete Streets language requiring all users to be considered in street design, tightening prohibitions on parking in a bike lane or dooring a cyclist, and increasing fines for bicyclists who don’t follow the rules of the road. If you want to testify at the hearing, contact Sean McMonagle to be placed on the list. If you can't make it in person, send a short personal email to the Streets and Services Committee.

We are in favor of formalizing a sensible public notification and review process for bike lane installation and removal, one that requires approval of the district Councilperson for removing a travel lane. But we are opposed to requiring an ordinance requirement because:
  • It adds red tape to professionally designed safety improvements. The bike lanes on Spruce and Pine Streets reduced serious motor vehicle crashes by 44%. Safety improvements proposed by professionals, that keep motorists out of the hospital, should not be delayed simply because they are bike lanes. 
  • It singles out bike lanes. No City Council ordinance is needed for a) installing new vehicular travel lanes, b) crosswalks, c) speed bumps, or d) other traffic control measures. Why pick on bike lanes? 
  • Delays can kill bike lanes. Bike lanes are installed during repaving. If approvals are delayed, repaving moves forward without new bike lanes and we are stuck with that street for 20 years. Final plans for repaving are made in the spring, at the same time as City Council passes the budget, and legislative delays seem inevitable. 
Why not treat bike lanes like traffic signals? Signals are routinely installed or removed by Streets traffic engineers. On occasion, City Council overrides the decisions of the Streets Department by passing an ordinance. But City Council does not have to pass a bill every time Streets wants to install a signal.

City Council has the chance to pass a sensible bill that formalizes the process for reviewing new bike lanes while encouraging Philadelphia’s steady march towards becoming a world-class bicycling city. Please join us at City Hall on Tuesday and speak out in support of encouraging biking and not taking a step backward by tying up bike lanes in red tape. 


Janet said...

This is what I just sent to the city council members:

Subject: Economic Impact of Bike Lanes on Philly's Future

The key to Philadelphia's economic future is its ability to attract young, high-income professionals who will create jobs and pay taxes here. These are the type of creative and entrepreneurial individuals who have a choice about where in the US to locate, and we need them to choose Philadelphia.

These people bike.

Believe it or not, for many such people, the number one consideration in where they want to live is being able to get around on a bike.

A study just released by The Brookings Institution and George Washington University School of Business shows that commercial, retail, and residential rents all get dramatically higher the more bikeable (as well as walkable) a location is.

I am a landlord here in the city, renting upscale apartments to these very professionals. For example, my most recent tenant is an architect who relocated from Boston to take a job with an internationally famous Philadelphia-based firm designing the new US Embassy in London. Guess what? He gets around town on a bike.

We have the potential, as we add bike lanes and "Complete the Streets," to have an advantage over all other major US cities. This is the single most important thing Philadelphia is doing to help me in attracting these high-end tenants who will build the city's economy.

Passing legislation that could potentially stall or block this from happening would do unnecessary harm to Philadelphia's future.

Please hold your vote on bill #120327 until it can be amended as proposed by the Bicycle Coalition.

Thank you,
Kevin Scott