As soon as dreary winter weather is hopefully behind us, cyclists will be traveling on a new and unique bike path in Philadelphia. The good news is, some adventurous cyclists are already pedaling the new route.
The new elevated and protected bike path on American Street, just north of Philadelphia’s Center City, is under construction and getting the final overlay for a grand opening in few months. It’s the first bike path in the city to boast a concrete barrier for protection from vehicle traffic. The much-anticipated leg will connect the Northern Liberties neighborhood with Fairhill.
Philadelphia has other bike lanes, but this track will have some differences that might take cyclists a few rides to get used to.
BillyPenn reports this 6 ½ foot lane will be raised a few inches above the road surface for vehicles and will also be protected by a wide curb. There’s another feature that may take riders by surprise. The bike lane runs down the middle of the street.
KYW News Radio talked to Philadelphia Streets Department chief engineer Darin Gatti about the choice not to go the traditional route by installing bike lanes along the sides of the street, “With all the driveways along this corridor, especially driveways where the trucks are coming in and out, it does create real safety conflicts for bike lanes and also bus stops. The bus constantly pulling in and out, that creates conflicts.”
The two-mile project is still a work in progress, but parts of the line are able to accommodate bike traffic right now. That’s led to some great reviews and also some potential problems that may or may not melt away once the path is completed.
One issue is a constant problem on existing bike lanes and it involves an avalanche of sorts. Snow removal crews on city streets have been known to pile excess snow in bike lanes, making passage impossible for a week or more.
Another hitch was spotted by BillyPenn. With such a wide bike path, cars can enter the bike lane and have been parking on sections under construction. It remains to be seen if this problem will persist once lanes have been properly marked with paint and entrances are equipped with signs.
KYW reports that the American Street endeavor is a $26 million project, but the city is only footing the bill for about 20% of the cost. The rest of the expense comes from state and federal funding.
Construction and cosmetic touches are around 80% complete as of early February 2021. Depending on who you ask the project could be open to official rides by early spring or could get a grand-opening in late spring.
The hope is that this new, safer option for cyclists is just the start of a long string of projects benefiting Philadelphia’s cycling community. Mayor Jim Kenney’s latest plan calls for 40 miles of protected bike lanes all in place within the next five years.
Philadelphia’s Pearce Law Firm is a strong supporter of cyclists’ rights to city streets. Drivers should be showing extra care to anyone on two wheels and when they don’t they should be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law. Their insurance companies should also be forced to step up to help victims.
If you were seriously injured as a result of a careless act by a driver, contact a Philadelphia Bicycle Accident Attorney. We want to defend your rights as a victim and make sure you are supported in your recovery until the moment you are able to get back on your bike again.