Bike lanes may soon need Council approval

bike lane
Bicyclists in Center City Philadelphia need to share the road and their marked bike lane with parked Philadelphia Police vehicles along N. 13th St. between Filbert and Arch St. on Friday, February 17, 2012. ( Alejandro A. Alvarez / Staff Photographer )

There’s always room for compromise.

City Council’s Committee on Streets and Services approved a bill sponsored by Councilman Bill Greenlee that would require that the city’s bike lanes be approved by Council.

Under the bill, a bike lane that requires the removal of a parking lane, a travel lane or both must be authorized by City Council. At the end of the hearing Greenlee amended the bill again to allow for an 8-month trial period for pilot bike lanes which was a major sticking point for the Nutter Administration.

An earlier effort to regulate bike lanes languished in Committee last year following intense opposition from bike advocates.

“Council should have the right to establish [a bike lane] by law or not,” Greenlee said, adding that the proposal is in line with other road-related regulations that need Council approval. “I think it’s reasonable.”

Andrew Stober, Chief of Staff for the Mayor's Office of Transportation and Utilities, said the changes to the proposal were helpful, but he added the bill should it become law will be another hurdle when it comes to installing bike lanes.

“The challenge will be fitting it onto Council’s schedule,” he said, adding that the latest bill is something the Administration can stomach.

Bike advocates, although still not thrilled about the proposal said they can now live with it.

“We can live with this and so I have confidence in the popularity and effectiveness of bike lanes, but if they truly don’t work for a particular neighborhood it shouldn’t be there,” said Alex Doty, executive director of the Greater Philadelphia Bicycle Coalition.

The bill will be up for a final vote by Council on June 7.

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