The Spruce and Pine Street bike lanes, installed by the City's Streets Department and Office of Transportation, have finally made east-west bike travel through Center City easy and convenient. Creating a bicycle-friendly connection between the Schuylkill and Delaware Rivers was a campaign promise made by Mayor Nutter and he fulfilled it! We urge everyone to make a concerted effort to follow the rules of the road and treat motorists and pedestrians with respect and civility. We encourage you to read these safety tips that we are handing out to bicyclists.
The Planning Commission and Mayor's Office of Transportation presented results of its Pilot Project on December 10, 2009 and found that was very successful at calming vehicle speeds, increasing bicycle ridership and not adversely impacting traffic flow. At that meeting, it was announced that Deputy Mayor Rina Cutler would recommend to Mayor Nutter that the lanes be made permanent.
Read the Bicycle Coalition's results of before and after counts of bicyclists on Spruce and Pine showing a 95% increase in bicycling after the intallation of the buffered bicycle lanes. These results were announced publicly in this press release.
This decision is a victory for sustainability and livable communities and is one of the most important public policy wins for bicycling in the Delaware Valley.
The Pilot Project
The bike lanes were evaluated by the City during the fall of 2009. They studied traffic speeds (have motor vehicle speeds gone down?), traffic patterns (are more cars "stacking up" when turning right?), yielding behavior between bicyclists and cars when cars turn right, and the level of use by bicyclists.
Spruce and Pine were not in great condition and have many defects. The Bicycle Ambassadors surveyed both streets for defects and shared that information with the City, who did do some patching in fall 2009. The worst stretchs of both streets (east of Broad) were resurfaced in 2010.
Crash Results From 2010
According to PENNDOT's 2010 traffic crash data, serious crashes on both streets dropped 44% from 2009. Pedestrian crashes dropped 58% and all crashes were reduced by 17%.
Parking in the bike lane on Sundays
Why are the bike lanes blocked on Sundays on some blocks? This is the answer from the City's Ped/Bike Coordinator.
The City of Philadelphia has a longtradition of allowing members of religious institutions to park in areas whereparking is usually prohibited. Allowing members of churches and synagogues topark is perceived as a method of supporting those institutions and the servicesthey provide to their communities. It also mitigates the impact thatneighborhood residents experience from increased parking demand from thereligious institutions.
When contemplating the bike lane pilotproject last year, it was determined that the political feasibility of markingthe bike lanes depended in part on preserving parking privileges for religiousinstitutions. During public meetings we repeatedly heard that neighborssupported the bike lanes provided that the ability of people to park whileattending services was maintained.
During that period, my personalobservations and my discussions with representatives of churches and synagoguesmade me realize that the issue was more complex than just allowing people topark for an hour or two on Sunday mornings. Services on religious holidays cancreate unexpected parking during the week. Several Center City religiousinstitutions generate a substantial amount of revenue from weddings, which areusually held on Saturday afternoons at churches and on Sunday afternoons atsynagogues. As a result, parking , including parking of limousines, willfrequently occur in the afternoon.
Like many residents, I was surprised bythe parking demand in the late afternoon on Spruce and Pine Streets between 16thand 19th Streets. I was even more surprised when I found thatalmost 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 the6:15 service that Sunday was filled to standing room only.
The Streets Department, the PhiladelphiaParking Authority and the religious institutions are in continuing discussionsto see how parking along these streets can be contained.. For example,Tenth Presbyterian has arranged for off-street parking and has encouraged theirmembers to use that parking. The Streets Department annually reviews thepermitted conditions under which religious institutions may authorize theirmembers to park in no parking zones, and will assure that those conditions arestrictly limited to the times when services are actually being held.
I certainly understand that the practiceof parking in the bike lanes limits the benefit that can be provided by thebike lanes. However, even when cars are parked on two or three blocks ofa street with bike lanes, the provision of the bike lanes along the remainderof the street remains a major enhancement. The demands on Philadelphia's streetsare numerous. Sharing the road takes many forms, including the use of bikelanes for parking by members religious institutions.
I encourage all members of the Coalitionto be polite and considerate regarding other roadway users. Thank you foryour cooperation.
Pedestrian & Bicycle Coordinator
Office of Transportation & Utilities
Municipal Services Bldg, Suite 1430
1401 John F Kennedy Blvd
Philadelphia, PA 19102
Rules of the Road For Bicyclists
A bike is a legal vehicle with the same rights and duties as a motor vehicle.
Obey all traffic signals (that means STOP at a red light), signs and rights of way; wait for the signal to change.
Walk your bike on sidewalks. Cyclists double their chances of a crash by riding on the sidewalk.
Use a white front light and rear red light from dusk to dawn.
For bicycling safety tips, take a look at this video from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
What to do if a vehicle blocks the bike lane
If a vehicle or another hazard blocks the bike lane then scan behind you to make sure that there is no traffic and merge into the travel lane, returning to the bike lane when it is safe to do so.
Motor vehicles are permitted to make brief stops to unload passengers or goods.
Motor vehicles are permitted to park cars in the bike lane when attending services at near-by religious institutions.
Are you familiar with State and Local Laws pertaining to bicycles?