By Kenneth Lipp
Today dozens of parents and children, individually and with up to 3 in-tow, pedaled up 22nd Street from near Pine all the way to Brown, in Fairmount Park.
The purpose of the ride was to draw attention to the need for clearly marked bicylce lanes on a five-block stretch of North 22nd Street in the Fairmount area, a (somehow) long-contentious measure which has been blocked by City Councilman Bill Greenlee. Called Kidical Mass, the ride was the latest of a series, “part of nationwide movement seeking to promote family friendly bike rides and bring awareness in our cities that kids are traffic too,” according to the group website.
22nd Street currently has no lane markings whatsoever between Fairmount Avenue and Spring Garden, and is used for two-lane motorized traffic in a relatively free-for-all fashion. The Philadelphia Streets Department engineers found this recently resurfaced section of roadway should be painted as one lane for motorized vehicles and one bike-lane.
Jon Geeting reported in Plan Philly regarding Greenlee’s rationale for his resistance, which the Councilman says is based on sentiment expressed by area residents:
Greenlee has told some of his constituents that he believes a bike lane would make the street less safe than the current unstriped free-for-all, but his argument to the Bicycle Coalition makes a different case: that the level of service for cars would be too low, and motorists won’t be able to drive fast enough at rush hour.
Geeting writes that “Greenlee contended that 22nd St. would be less safe with a bike lane, because it would get congested at rush hour, and people would try to illegally pass other cars or buses.”
“From a traffic engineering standpoint,” Greenlee is quoted saying during a phone interview in PlanPhilly, “and I’ve been told this many times – when traffic gets backed up, people start to do stupid stuff. They’ll try to get around people, all that kind of stuff. And I just think it is not safe to back traffic up, as I believe, and some of the neighbors who have lived on that street for a long time believe.”
Geeting concludes: “Councilman Greenlee’s argument boiled down is that fast throughput for buses requires two mixed-traffic lanes for general traffic, and that the road should be designed for the two peak times of the day when people are passing through the neighborhood, rather than for off-peak shorter trips within the neighborhood.”
Riders out on 22nd Street today wished to demonstrate to the Councilman that community-members support and make active use of the bike lane, and that it will benefit people city-wide.
The Bicycle Coalition of Philadelphia, strong supporter of the 22nd Street bike lane, reported in August on “complications hindering” the lane’s implementation.
“We know that there is also neighborhood support for the bike lane, as several neighbors have expressed their support to Councilman Greenlee and Council President Darrell Clarke (then informed us that they did so),” writes Nicholas Mirra for the Coalition.
“It seems absurd to require a demonstration of neighborhood support in order for Streets Department engineers to do an essential part of their jobs and reduce crashes.”
Inclined to agree with you there, Nicholas.