Anyone who walks or travels around Philadelphia on two wheels should be encouraged by the recently unveiled “Pedestrian and Bicycle Plan,” Mayor Nutter’s emerging blueprint to upgrade make the city sidewalks and bike lanes a kinder and gentler places.
First things first: In what is its most important goal, the plan sets out to achieve a 50 percent reduction in bicyclist and pedestrian fatalities over the next decade.
That can’t happen soon enough for pedestrians, given the near-misses at any busy street corner on any given day. The dangers of riding in the street also prompt too many bicyclists to ride illegally on sidewalks, further risking pedestrians’ safety. If there were more bike lanes – and greater consideration from motorists – the safety of bicyclists, as well as their ranks, would grow.
Indeed, the city hopes to triple the percentage of people bicycling to work and increase by nearly half those who walk to the office.
Along the roads, the city has some creative ideas for combining bike and traffic lanes. But the initial plan calls for adding an impressive 60 miles of bike-only lanes to the city’s 200-plus miles.
Another good way for the Nutter administration to bolster its support for cycling would be to get behind a bicycle sharing program that would provide bicycles for low-cost rental at handy kiosks around the city. So far, Nutter officials - notably, transportation czarina Rina Cutler - have been lukewarm to pursuing the plan.
Cycle-sharing enthusiasts on Friday had a chance to check out bikes that are used in similar programs in London, Washington, D.C., Minneapolis and Montréal, courtesy of the Alta Bicycle Share Company. The event ran until 2 p.m. at LOVE Park, 15th Street and JFK Boulevard.