Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Philadelphia Considers How to Reconfigure Washington Avenue

Late in October, the Philadelphia City Planning Commission (PCPC) held a public meeting to discuss Washington Avenue. They presented a study which examines the street and proposes new configurations, the goals of which include making the street more hospitable to bicyclists and pedestrians.

Currently, the vibe one gets when bicycling on this important east-west arterial lands somewhere between this:

and this:

(That might be an exaggeration, but the color palette is pretty spot-on.)

The study split Washington Avenue into four sections and proposed three options for lane configurations in each section. The study also proposed two options for treating intersections (including bike parking). Some of the cross-section options propose buffered bike lanes and some propose standard (5 foot) bike lanes. Although the presentation shows the bike lanes as colored (yellow green), it is not likely that PCPC would propose green paint for these lanes due to their higher cost.

It's clear that changes are needed. Gaps in the bike lane network, worn-away lane paint, and lack of enforcement on parking in bike lanes all contribute to Washington Avenue's inhospitable environment for bicycling. PCPC's study backs the impression that Washington Avenue is a dangerous street, finding on average:
  • 6 crashes occur along the corridor per week; 
  • 1 crash every 10 days requires towing or involves an injury; 
  • 1 pedestrian or bicyclist is injured every 3 weeks due to a crash. 
The study also found non-reportable crashes prevalent at most intersections. Of reportable crashes: 
  • Angle and head on crashes exceed rear-end crashes at intersections; 
  • Pedestrian crashes are the dominant crash-type at 8th, 11th, Broad, 15th and 16th Streets.
By reviewing bike/ped crashes between 2010 and 2012, PCPC found that:
  • Multiple pedestrian and bicycle crashes occur at intersections between 5th Street and 15th Street; 
  • Multiple pedestrian crashes occur at intersections with signals and crosswalks; 
  • Bicycle crashes were concentrated in the section of corridor that lacks a bike lane between 7th and 11th Streets.
You can see the full presentation from the October public meeting here. If you want to express your views on the plan, send comments to Jeannette Brugger at the City.

PCPC's Washington Avenue page is here; coverage of the meeting from Plan Philly and Flying Kite.


Aaron said...

I can confirm those images are not an exaggeration of the bicycling experience on Washington Ave.