The City of Philadelphia announced in a press release on Wednesday that they will be moving forward with protected bike lanes on South Street and 27th Street, providing increased protection for cyclists riding to, and from, the South Street Bridge. And while the announcement is a step in the right direction, it still isn’t enough.
This Vision Zero project has been on the Bicycle Coalition’s radar, publicly, since plans for a meeting popped up over the summer of 2017, which found oTIS proposing protection along South, Lombard, and 27th Streets.
After some community opposition, Councilman Kenyatta Johnson wrote a letter opposing the protected lane on Lombard, but did not comment on the protection for 27th and South.
That’s when advocates got to work. More than 200 people in Councilman Johnson’s district sent letters of support for the protected lanes, most of whom noted that they use the South Street Bridge on the regular (it is, after all, the most-biked bridge in Pennsylvania).
The Bicycle Coalition held meetings and sent letters to the city with our recommendations for South, 27th, and Lombard Streets.
The South of South Neighborhood Association, a huge stakeholder in the neighborhood, wrote a letter in support, too.
In their letter, they noted the “overwhelming amount of positive feedback from our community members” they received since the public meeting over the summer.
Encouragingly, SOSNA also noted the importance of the hundreds, if not thousands, of people who use their neighborhood to pass through to get to their destinations, whether it be school, work, or whatever.
“In a city with tightly knit neighborhoods, we become directly linked to near and far neighbors when commuters travel through the city utilizing routes in our neighborhood, including South Street,” the letter read. “Our neighborhood serves as a gateway between West Philadelphia and the rest of the city. Given the number of commuters who pass through our neighborhood, we are eager to support the … project as it has the potential to enhance the safety of cyclists, pedestrians, and drivers.”
So. While today’s news is encouraging, the Bicycle Coalition will continue to advocate for better options in Southwest Center City.
First off, given the speed at which many cars take the turn from Lombard onto 27th Street to get to the South Street Bridge, we recommended – and still contend – the city puts in Tuff Curb, rather than delineator posts. Tuff Curb will provide stronger protection from potentially out-of-control drivers.
Additionally, we will continue working for a safer bike lane on Lombard Street. Sure, near neighbors and Councilman Johnson were able to block safety for the hundreds who ride every day—for now. But you can’t block progress forever. And we will continue highlighting and advocating for our Lombard Street recommendations in the days to come.
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