May, found that only 9% of cyclists on streets with bike lanes were riding on the sidewalk, while onstreets with no bike lanes, 20% of cyclists rode on sidewalks.Not only do bike lanes work for bicyclists, but they also benefit pedestrians and motorists. Moreover,they are the least expensive form of traffic calming and safety measure available. All they require ispaint and engineering plans. They can reduce vehicle speeds, and thus reduce the number and severityof crashes between cars, cars and bikes and cars and walkers. Whether or not you agree that a travellane on Spruce and Pine should have been converted over from being dedicated to all vehicles over to just bicycles, you can’t argue with the facts that since the buffered bike lanes were installed on thosetwo streets, serious crashes dropped on those streets by 44%, the number of pedestrians hit was cut inhalf and fender benders dropped by 17%. Bike lanes save lives and reduce the injuries of pedestriansand motorists. If PennDOT could produce those numbers on the I-76, it would be winning nationalsafety awards.
Philadelphia needs more traffic engineers to take advantage of low-cost opportunities to save lives
While the Streets Department has the will and intention to make Philadelphia safer for all road users, itsresources are too limited.Philadelphia’s streets are resurfaced every 20 years, even though optimally, streets should be resurfacedevery 5-10 years. Out of 292
miles of public city streets in the “Federal Aid Network”, the StreetsDepartment resurfaces 15 miles
of streets (5%) a year. Historically, the Streets Depart has resurfaced70-100 miles of streets per year. This coming year, it can afford only to resurface about 30-35 miles, of the roughly 2,000 mile system; this is because of ADA requirements, which has cut the amount of dollarsallocated to paving have been cut by roughly two thirds.
Based on these figures, only 2% of the City’sstreets will be repaved this year.
Resurfacing of a city street is the most cost-effective opportunity to get bike lanes installed. The onlyadditional cost is paying for someone to draw the striping plans and the paint. Therefore, typically,streets get bike lanes when they are resurfaced and that opportunity only comes around once every 20years.In summary, the Streets Department needs more traffic engineers to produce the striping plans andtraffic studies to determine if road diets (dropping travel lanes) or lane diets (narrowing travel lanes) arepossible. When the Department operates with diminished capacity to conduct those studies or preparethose plans, it loses low cost opportunities for a generation to save lives and make our streets safer forall users.