You have to wonder if they know what they hell they are doing.
The people riding herd on bicycle lanes, I mean, who want to switch them from the right side of the street to the left on Pine and on Spruce. I guess when you are progressive you want everything to be left.
It’s another change, with very modest reasoning behind it. Shall I remind our genius traffic engineers that when they installed bicycle lanes on those two streets in 2009, they neglected to install left-turn lanes at Broad Street? The left-turn lanes were added after we experienced easily predictable gridlock at Broad. That also was done without much community input.
This week’s story referenced the tragic death of Emily Fredricks last year at 11th and Spruce, but the switch from right to left was on the drawing board before her death.
Police have not determined how the accident happened or who was at fault. Pine and Spruce generally are safe for bicyclists. They don’t even show up on the city’s map of high-injury streets.
There is some evidence that bike lanes on the left might be slightly safer than on the right, but the flip creates other dangers, such as the driver’s door opening into traffic.
Join me now on a trip back nearly a decade to when the lanes were installed on Pine and Spruce as a “pilot project,” according to the city (laughing up its sleeve). The truth is Mayor Nutter — who rode to work in an SUV — wanted them and was going to get them.
This was so long ago that City Councilman Jim Kenney introduced a bill to increase fines for illegal biking and Councilman Frank DiCicco introduced one to register bicycles, like cars.
After the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia howled like a famished wolf pack, Kenney and DiCicco put their tails between their legs and retreated. The coalition is all about the No’s — no licensing, no registration, no mandatory insurance. They’re like the NRA on wheels.
Kenney later attended progressive reeducation camp and now is a Stepford Husband for the tiny biking community.
Why do I say tiny? Because the census shows only 2.2 percent of Philadelphians commuted by bike in 2015, the latest year I could find.
Last summer, the city’s Office of Transportation and Infrastructure Systems — which doesn’t talk to me — wanted to add “protected” bike lanes on several blocks of Lombard west of Broad. “Protected” lanes use a device of some sort between traffic and the bicycle lane — barriers, posts, planters, flying monkeys, whatever. After hearing screams from Lombard Street residents, City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson blocked that plan. (“Protected” bike lanes offer a false sense of security because most crashes happen at the intersection, beyond the “protection.”)
The city’s hot idea to flip the bike lanes must be approved by Council. I poked around and found most Council people were undecided.
Back on Pine and on Spruce, the Society Hill Civic Association opposes the flip.
Not much has changed in that upscale neighborhood since last March, when some neighbors were up in arms over reports that delineator posts would be installed, making curb stops impossible for cars, taxis, or delivery vehicles.
At a closed-door meeting Wednesday night, block coordinators for the Society Hill Civic Association were briefed about what is known about the city’s plan. Association president Rosanne Loesch declined to tell me what was discussed. However, in an email letter to “Society Hill neighbors,” she revealed that the association commissioned its own traffic engineering report.
The report had 13 safety suggestions. Delineators and flipping bike lanes were not among them.
But it looks as if the city will push forward with an unnecessary and disruptive plan, flipping the bird to the residents on Pine and Spruce.