Philadelphia Officials Consider Bike Lanes For North-South Streets

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – More than a year after the city created bike-only lanes on Pine and Spruce Streets, officials are looking at the same thing for some north-south streets.

Deputy Mayor for Transportation Rina Cutler, at a budget hearing, told council members that her office has finished an analysis of adding two more dedicated bike lanes, the next pair running north-south. Bike lanes running east and west on Pine and Spruce Streets were begun in 2009.

Before revealing which north south streets are being looked at, Cutler will do some neighborhood outreach.

“And so we will shortly go into the community and start working with the community for the next two,” she said.

Sharing the road isn’t always an easy compromise for drivers when it comes to cyclists.

“Its very hard to see them coming up from behind especially on the blind spot. I think it’s kind of dangerous,” said driver Megan Murphy.

“The other day we were in traffic, the lady was a biker, she hit the car and she fell back and her hand got rolled over,” recounts driver Gabrielle Ward.

For some cyclists, the designated bike lanes on Pine and Spruce streets makes them feel safer.

“People are more cognizant of the bikers when they’re riding on one of the streets that has the bike lanes,” cyclist Stephanie Moleski said.

Cutting down on bicycle and car collisions is one reason why Alex Doty is pushing for the expansion of bike lanes.

“Philadelphia already has per capita twice as many bicycle commuters as any other big city in the united states,” Doty said.

Doty is the executive director of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia. He contends adding bike lanes on two north and south streets which would eliminate two vehicle lanes should not dramatically increase congestion.

“Where is the massive congestion? This is an idea that has worked on Pine and Spruce streets,” Doty said.

The city is expected to announce in late April which two north and south streets in Center City it will use for a six month pilot program. The two streets will run between Spring Garden and South Streets.

Look for pilot program to start in the Summer.

Reported by Mike Dunn, KYW Newsradio; Todd Quinones, CBS 3

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  • Shackamaximum

    Many of you are missing the point. The ultimate goal here is not to promote nor advocate one form of transport over another, but to make travel the safest and most efficient for all people. Data show that cars are the most dangerous and inefficient modes, which is why they are licensed and bicycles are not.

    Creating bike lanes increases safety for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians, while reducing travel times for all users. The fewer people in cars, the less congestion for those who choose to drive. Reduced speeds in urban areas have also been demonstrated to lower trip duration for motorists, due to the elimination of bottlenecking.

    If you could all consider the wealth of traffic studies and worldwide examples of successful implementation, you would have to arrive at the conclusion that supporting this infrastructure makes every choice of transport faster, safer, and more enjoyable.

  • EricG

    I think that unless you ride a bike in the city you cant really understand what its like. In theory cars would respect cyclists and not have a hissy fit because they have to wait another 10 seconds to make their turn and cyclists would respect drivers as well as pedestrians by not doing whatever they want all the time. If there was a mutual respect than things could run more smoothly, but unfortunately there’s not. Also if don’t ride than its hard to understand how vulnerable cyclists are. They don’t have a 1 ton metal cage surrounding them like drivers do and because of that, I don’t believe you cant put cyclists and drivers into the same category like many try to. I agree that cyclists should be accountable for their actions but I think cops would have to also issue tickets to motor vehicles running red lights, rolling through stops sign, etc. as well. Unfortunately I don’t think they have the man power to accomplish this task or it would already have been done.

    As for the seasonal comment, I like many others commute to work everyday. I see plenty of people on the bike lanes no matter what weather condition. Of course the number of people out cycling goes down when its 35F and raining like the morning commute today, but so does participation in anything else that would happen outdoors. At the end of the day the goal for cyclists no matter if they are commuting to work or out for a leisurely stroll is to get to their destination and back home alive. That’s it! and having a buffered bike lane would help immensely even if it cost a driver another 5 minutes in traffic.

  • Reality

    Drivers do stupid things. That’s well established. They also have accidents; I think that’s well known too. Bicyclists have accidents and do stupid things too . . . the difference is legal accountability.

    Here’s a wild idea: license bicyclists. Make them get a license and insurance, just like any other vehicle. Watch random acts of bicycle stupidity decrease, especially when they try to sue someone for getting hit while they ran the stop sign or randomly decided to ride into the middle of traffic. No license and insurance . . . no suit.

    I’m all for cycling in the street provided that cyclists are well separated from general traffic, via the buffer mentioned in another post or some other mechanism.

    Cycling on Chesnut and Walnut street is just a bad idea, period. The reason people ride in both lanes on Chesnut street is because the left lane is always blocked by some stupid delivery truck or some one waiting for a parking space or, people want to make a right turn. Do you realize that there was a period of time when you couldn’t make a right turn on Chesnut street for about 10 blocks? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a bike squeeze in between lanes because it’s trying to beat the bus or ignore a stoplight. It was a bad idea to even consider putting lanes on these streets . . . the zoning is not appropriate for biking.

  • Joey

    I think philly needs to get of the free on street parking for the church people on spruce near 16th street. why can’t they pay to park like everyone else. also, it creates such gridlock, i see emergency vehicles such as fire engines and ambulances stuck in those blocks all of the time!

  • JakeF

    I’m another person who bikes (primarily on trails, etc.)

    But the Center City East-West bike lines have been nothing short of amazing. With traffic lights, it’s much easier to take a quick ride to my destination. I’ve found, in my experience that I can more than keep up with traffic on Spruce & Pine Streets. (more often than not, I keep ahead of the traffic) Of course, some of my fellow bikers who decide to not obey the rules make it more difficult for those of us that do.

    I’ve had people nearly run me over, flip me off and run stop signs to make sure I don’t enter the intersection at 4 way stop signs. Manyunk, in particular is especially challenging. (where Main St. meets Umbria) I feel safer in Center City than I do on these very narrow streets.

    There are more bikes on the road and while the rails to trails project is progressing along nicely. But, these things take time and money. (the over the water extension of the Schuylkill River trail to the new South Street bridge is going to be nothing short of amazing)

    We all need to treat each other with a bit more respect. I do, however, find that the bike commuters are some of the most respectful riders I’ve ever encountered. (unlike some of the fitness nuts who don’t believe any rule of the road applies to them)

    Keep up the good work Philadelphia.

  • brian

    Most people who drive and don’t ever bicycle commute are completely ignorant to bicycling laws, as is shown over and over again in this thread. In fact I’d go as far to say most people who solely drive in Philly are ignorant of many of the laws, even the one directly pointed at them.

  • Armand

    It isn’t safe, and it isn’t wise to dedicate bike lanes for only seasonal use. Every square inch of the roads cost a fortune and are needed for traffic to move efficiently. Dedicating up to 20 % of the road for seasonal bike traffic doesn’t save any fuel. The gas saved by the few riding bikes is more than wasted by the thousands of cars and trucks that are stuck in the traffic caused by the loss of lanes. Build more bike trails in the parks, but don’t take away precious lanes of traffic for the occasional rider.

  • Driver and Biker

    OK first off, this gave zero information as any kind of a news story. Label this as a FYI short blurb. I think it might actually constitute a tweet.

    As for driver’s concerns, I am from both camps. Avid driver, and a here and then biker. I am truthfully FEARFUL to ride my bike on most lanes here in Philly, no matter how small the street. As a driver I will always go slow and give a wide berth for bikers when they need it.

    Yes I will get easily annoyed at bikers who run lights and break laws and do cause issues, but I see Drivers run lights, cause issues too. As a biker, I will get easily annoyed by cars who do not respect me or my safety.

    Philly needs separate bike lanes. And by that I mean with a buffer zone. not a line painted right next to speeding cars, but a lane with a small section of stripes or even like some other cities, where there is a protective curb.

    I get the driving culture here, I do. If there were more mass transit options, specifically subway lines, and more frequency of service, use of cards with transfers in them rather than tokens and paper transfers, it would be an incentive to get people to drive. Right now, we don’t have that here. So, people drive.

    However, there are more and more bicyclists. Times do change, and as a driver, we have to understand that. We have to understand that not only is it legal, but it is often safer for bikes to travel in car lanes due to potholes, drains, double parked cars/trucks. etc.

    Until SEPTA and Philly’s traffic department change/add service and streets to better accommodate pedestrians, bikers, and drivers, there will be clashes.

    This is a good first step, having separate bike lanes, but as they are on Spring Garden, they are in the door zone of parked cars, and next to speeding vehicles (this would also be alleviated with a different timing system along that whole street).

    It’s not a simple issue, but it is one that has solutions.

    • Tiffany Green

      Roof Decks and 3 story buildings causes traffic and biker deaths. We all know it. The CDC did a report on the relationships of Roof Decks and biking accidents which you can find at

      We should ban bike lanes and roof decks to SAVE POINT BREEZE!

  • Sheila

    Bicyclists need to follow consistent rules and not decide to be “pedestrain” traffic at one point and road traffic the next. When I’m driving OR walking I don’t anticipate bicyclists to be going the wrong way on a one way street. When I’m walking I don’t want to be run over by bicycles on the side walks. Bicyclists blow through red lights assuming they are using pedestrain cross walks.
    It creates a danger for drivers, pedestrains, AND bicyclists and I’m tired of it.

    • Duh

      yes, some cyclists break traffic laws.

      some drivers also break traffic laws.

      do i enjoy a cyclist going the wrong way down a one way street? no

      do i enjoy when a driver turns without signaling? no, because without any stretch of the imagination, this situation can lead to a cyclist getting killed.

      there’s great mutual responsibility here. it’s not one sided, and everyone needs to get educated, pay attention, and be respectful.

    • philly

      I agree

    • Tommy

      well said

  • p

    bikes are traffic. if you don’t give them a bike lane they have the right to take up a lane because by law (which actually reflects something minimally necessary), cars are supposed to give them 6′ of space (which is not enough if both are in the same lane). bikes need their own roads, not just lanes, because cars do not respect the space around the bike. ppl complain about bikes but ppl on bikes are just trying to stay alive. if tickets are given to bike riders then tickets can go to drivers who pass to close and endanger the bikers life (which happens constantly).

    • Tiffany Green

      They should just close off HICKS Street from DMV traffic since it runs next to Board and the people who park on Hicks now all have to park on the sidewalk anyways. Playing with Taxis and Septa buses suck

      SAVE POINT BREEZE because bikers and roof decks cause strokes and heart attacks! CDC said so


    On Pine and Spruce streeet which I ride everyday to Penn, the lights are now timed somewhat. The commute is actually faster now with the bike lane and timed lights. Before people would just double park and block a lane making a hugh back up and mess up light timing. HUMANS will always block one lane of a two lane road. Now the FEDEX trucks and taxi’s just block the bike lane when making deliveries, but it doesn’t slow down traffic like someone trying to get back into the moving lane.

    Why can’t Philadelphia just have traffic sensors like everywhere else in the world. We waste so much fuel sitting at a red light for NO reason. Stupid Traffic Dept can’t get with the 90’s in Philadelphia cause they are city workers.

  • jay

    A million years ago man stands upright and begins to walk. A hundred years ago man comes out with the automobile. The close-minded, fat people in Philthy should shut up, get a bike, and help end the global grid-lock created by automobiles.

  • B

    I live in CC

    I’m OK with a bike lane….just make sure the bikers stick to that street, unlike the present, where they block traffic because they feel like they can ride down the middle of any lane, on any street.

    • C

      um, they “feel like they can ride down the middle of any lane, on any street” because they are legally allowed to do so. just because it’s a slight inconvenience for you doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

      • @B

        “then use these lanes to travel if you are riding a bike. Not Chestnut or Walnut street.”

        you realize that the right lanes of both chestnut and walnut street are supposed to be dedicated to septa buses and cyclists ONLY right? but it’s generally completed disregarded by drivers?

      • B

        So why even make bike lanes?

        My point, if you are going to establish/dedicate a lane of the street for bikes (Im OK with this idea)…then use these lanes to travel if you are riding a bike. Not Chestnut or Walnut street.

        Simple concept….that you don’t seem to understand.

      • @B

        Sometimes bikers need to traverse other streets in order to get to the bike lanes on Pine / Spruce St. hence the need for North / South bike lanes. Asking bikers to strictly use the bike lanes is like asking drivers to only use the highway; it’s not going to happen! If all drivers / bikers / pedestrians would simply be more cautious and alert, then most of the accidents, usually due to negligence, would cease to exist.

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