UPDATE 5:18 p.m.: Well, this is pretty awesome. Randy LoBasso from the Bicycle Coalition called me a few minutes ago to say the city has done a total 180 on the Ben Franklin Parkway bike-lane situation. In response to the general, well, outrage over the proposed yearlong removal of the bike lanes between the 1600 to 1800 block, the Streets Department now says they are going to maintain four feet of bike lanes in both directions for the duration of the project. Victory! The Bicycle Coalition has the full skinny — check it out here.
ORIGINAL: I almost spit my lunch out today when I saw a troublesome new post on the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia’s blog about the not-so-bright future for a portion of the bike lanes along the Ben Franklin Parkway — namely, that they’re about to disappear for the next year. What gives?
A massive streetscape revitalization project between the Parkway’s 1600 and 1800 block — from LOVE Park to Logan Square — will result in the removal of the east- and westbound bike lanes until approximately Spring 2016. There’s no word on when the lanes will be officially out of commission, but you can expect them to be disabled shortly: I’m told the construction that’s already underway in that area has resulted in the bike lanes being shrunk to about half their original width.
Word about the lanes’ future came to the Coalition just last week. Before that, the organization thought the lanes would remain in tact through construction. “But, apparently PennDOT and the Streets Department think sharing the road is the answer,” writes the Coalition’s deputy director Sarah Clark Stuart in the blog post.
Yes, the current stopgap solution on the table, once the bike lanes are kaput, is to install road signs asking drivers and pedestrians to share the road. “This stretch of road is not easy to ride with bike lanes, and the prospect of no bike lanes for a year or more during a construction project is, needless to say, very unwelcome,” writes Clark Stuart.
Bicycle Coalition’s Randy LoBasso tells me his group is working to urge city officials to install temporary bike lanes through the work zone while construction is going on. Without them, cyclists will have a fairly difficult time navigating the area safely.
At the tail end of construction, the Philadelphia Parks and Recreation Department promises that six-foot bike lanes will be added back to the streets. The Coalition has been urging officials to paint the new bike lanes bright green, like they are between Logan Square and the Art Museum, but they’ve found resistance on that front, too. Painting the entire stretch would cost an estimated $120,000 — money the project doesn’t have — so instead, the lanes will be painted green only at certain “conflict zones.”
Check out a map of the impacted area here. In the meantime, the Bicycle Coalition is encouraging cyclists to contact Philadelphia City Council President Darrell Clarke, whose district the bike lanes occupy, to encourage him to install temporary bike lanes to keep cyclists safe for the duration of the construction project. Contact his office at 215-686-3442 or send his staffer an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Says LoBasso, “I think if enough people contact him, Council President Clarke is more likely to seek some kind of solution.”
You heard the man — get on it, you guys.
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