After months of deliberation and a month after a cyclist was killed, the city announced that it will be installing its third protected bike lane just east of the South Street Bridge.
The half-mile-long protected bike lane will be installed by mid-2018 between 27th and Lombard and 21st and South streets. The current bike lane will be restriped, and flexible delineator posts will be installed on South and 27th streets.
The announcement comes on the heels of the death of cyclist who was struck by a truck at the corner of 11th and Spruce. Following the death, bike advocates called on the city to honor its commitment to install more protected bike lanes, going so far as to form a human bike lane along the route where the cyclist was killed. An online petition spearheaded by the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia also argued for safer streets in the city, garnering more than 1,300 signatures.
Mayor Jim Kenney initially campaigned to install 30 miles of protected paths throughout the city. It received state funding for the installations as recently as January 2017, but at this point, there are just two protected bike lanes totaling 2.5 miles, including one in West Philly and another in Northeast Philly.
Plans for a South Street protected bike lane has been in the works for months now, though initially it called for a protected bike path on Lombard Street, as well. Multiple neighborhood organizations supported the plans, including South of South Neighbors Association, Center City Residents Association, and South Street West Business Association.
“While consideration of Lombard Street continues, we believe it is important to move forward with this limited project on South and 27th streets to improve safety for hundreds of bicyclists riding to or from the bridge,” said Deputy Managing Director for Transportation & Infrastructure Michael A. Carroll in a statement.
Still, the Bicycle Coalition’s executive director Sarah Clark Stuart told Curbed Philly that while the move is progress, the group believes that more could be done.
“We are glad to see that this is officially moving forward, but we want to ensure that issues about Lombard [street] gets resolved,” Stuart said. “We believe that more traffic calming is required for Lombard Street to make it safe for bicyclists using the corridor.”
The coalition is meeting with Councilman Kenyatta Johnson Wednesday afternoon to continue discussions about their full proposal, Stuart said.
“We also look forward to discussing with Streets our design suggestions for 27th and South, in particular, using stronger lane separators for the curve in 27th Street and a mountable corner island at the 27th and South intersection.”
South Street Bridge is one of the most highly trafficked areas in the city, with thousands of cars, cyclists, and pedestrians crossing it every day. In fact, it has the most bicyclist and pedestrian traffic in all of Pennsylvania: The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission has counted on average 862 daily riders at South and 27th and 630 average annual daily riders at 27th just below Lombard.