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City Council Wants More Control Over Bike Lanes

file photo (by Mike Dunn)

file photo (by Mike Dunn)

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By Steve Tawa

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Bicycle advocates – and the Nutter Administration – are reluctantly going along with a proposal to give Philadelphia City Council more control over the location of bike lanes.

After getting complaints from the Mayor’s office and the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, Councilman Bill Greenlee amended the measure.

“We only have to do the bills by ordinance if they take out parking lanes and/or travel lanes.”

The original bill would have required Council approval for any new bike lane.

And, Greenlee says they’d get an eight-month trial period, to see if they work.

Chief of Staff Andrew Stober of the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities says they compared notes with peers in 12 other big cities, like Boston, Chicago, New York and San Francisco.

“The administration installs bike lanes in consultation with a district council person or their equivalent. At no point are they ever required to get council approval for that bike lane.”

Critics say an ordinance could get bogged down, increasing the likelihood that the law won’t make it through Council in time to include a lane in a repaving plan or contract.

Sarah Clark Stuart, the Policy Director of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, says it creates an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy.

“You don’t have to pass a law to put in a crosswalk, a vehicular travel lane or a speed bump, so why a bike lane?”

The Nutter administration says the current set-up shows it’s worked without a Council ordinance. It points to the test-run of a “buffered” 10th Street bike lane in Chinatown, where “merchants perceived an increase in congestion.” It’ll return to two-lane vehicular traffic this summer, between Vine and Market Streets.

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