The highly anticipated revamp of the bike lanes on Spruce and Pine streets has been delayed until the spring.
Some background: The bike lanes, which provide an east-west connection between Fitler Square and Society Hill, are among the most traveled in the city. For years, they were regarded by some bicyclists as two of the safest or most preferable routes for cyclists — but that sentiment changed in December, when 24-year-old Emily Fredricks was struck and killed by a trash truck while crossing 11th and Spruce streets, in what cyclists call a “right hook” incident (which occurs when a car turns right into a biker’s path.)
Since Fredricks’s death, bicycling advocates have called for more protection on the routes — and the city has promised to act. In April, officials presented a plan to repave the lanes, switching them from the right to the left side of the street in the process, and to add plastic delineator posts at some intersections, as well as designated loading zones for delivery vehicles.
The move, they say, would reduce the risk of right-hook crashes (which are four times more common than left-hook crashes, per the Bicycle Coalition), as well as reduce conflicts with buses (which primarily use the right side of the road) and increase visibility of cyclists.
For a while, all seemed fine and dandy: Bicyclists, for the most part, supported the plan (though many of them have said that adding protected bike lanes — with, you know, physical barriers between bicyclists and cars — is the safest option for bicyclists). So when the city presented the plan this spring, officials said the roads would likely get repaved this fall.
But now that fall is nearing, it appears as though bicyclists will have to endure several more months of frustration and fear over safety on the roads. Officials told PlanPhilly that the revamp is now expected to take place in spring.
Christopher Puchalsky, policy director in the city’s Office of Transportation and Infrastructure Systems, told the publication that the news organization is “really important … and rather than doing it quick, rushing we’d rather do it right.”
Puchalsky said that the organization’s analysis of Spruce and Pine streets is taking longer than expected, according to PlanPhilly. And officials don’t typically repave streets in the winter, when weather conditions can deteriorate road quality.
In April, oTIS said some serious groundwork was required before moving forward: The organization made plans to engage in conversations with councilmembers Mark Squilla and Kenyatta Johnson, whose districts include the bike lanes, as well as civic organizations like the Center City Residents’ Association and the Society Hill Civic Association — plus SEPTA and the Philadelphia Parking Authority. So here we are, still in the planning stages.
For more information on the plans for the bike lanes, click here.