Philly should speed up work to make bike lanes safer before another cyclist dies | Editorial

Philadelphia Police investigate the scene at 10th and Spring Garden Streets, where an SUV struck a bicyclist on Saturday night.

The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia will hold a “Ride of Silence” on Wednesday to mourn cyclists killed on Philadelphia’s unsafe streets.

The coalition planned its solemn ride even before food courier and cycling enthusiast Pablo Avendano, 34, was killed Saturday  An SUV struck Avendano on Spring Garden Street near 10th Street.

Avendano seemed to be following safety protocols. In fact, his helmet lay in the street near his bicycle as police investigated the scene.

This is the second time in as many years that a cyclist struck in central Philadelphia died. Emily Fredricks, 24, was killed in November 2017 when she was hit by a trash truck on Spruce Street near 11th Street.

Philadelphia has more traffic deaths per capita than New York, Los Angeles, or Boston, according to the city’s Vision Zero plan to reduce traffic deaths to zero by 2030.

Mayor Kenney has said he wants to add bike lanes to ensure cyclists are adequately protected. Council should be involved in that process, but not given the expanded powers Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell sought in a misguided bill she introduced in March.

Going forward, the administration wants to move bike lanes on Spruce and Pine Streets, from Front to 22nd Streets, to the left sides of those thoroughfares. Other ideas include separating bike riders from cars using Jersey barriers, poles, and planters, as well as moving parking lanes off curbs, leaving cyclists to travel between parked cars and the sidewalk.

The city should accelerate its plans to protect cyclists before another one dies. In the meantime, the general public should support the coalition when its members gather at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the steps of the Art Museum.

People ride bicycles to get to work and school, for sport and for health. Doing that shouldn’t mean dying on the streets of Philadelphia.