Philadelphia Struggles with How Best to Protect Cyclists

Like other big cities, Philadelphia has been encouraging people to get out of their cars and walk or ride bikes to commute around the city. They have added miles of bike lanes and have adopted programs to reduce auto and bike accidents.

While most cyclists are happy with this push to support cycling, many still feel the city needs to do more. This feeling came to a head after a tragic accident a couple of years ago. In November of 2017, a 24-year-old female cyclist died when she was struck by a trash truck at 11th and Spruce streets. Allegedly the driver was wearing earbuds and looking down at some paperwork.

New Safety-Friendly Bike Lanes

The death of the cyclist prompted a renewed effort to repaint, move and upgrade some of the bike lanes in the area. One of the controversial parts of the plan is to add a physical barrier such as flex poles between the street and the bike lane.

Changes were made on bike lanes all around Society Hill neighborhood however, the flex poles only went up west of Eighth Street because of resistance from some of the locals. For them, it was an aesthetics issue saying that the poles were unattractive, distracting and out of character for the area.

Picking a Side

A community leader says that aesthetics aren’t the only reason, the poles cause problems for busses, trash trucks and snow removal equipment. At present, the issue is at a standstill, and no poles are planned east of Eighth Street in the immediate future.

However, supporters say that the issue of safety and lives should outweigh other considerations. A spokesperson for the Bike Coalition said that not all locals are opposed to the poles, and said there are many who feel that the issue of safety for cyclists outweighs other considerations. A study is underway that will hopefully look at these issues and hopefully start a dialogue that can break the current impasse.