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March 17, 2018

JFK Boulevard, Market Street to get protected bike lanes in Center City

Transportation Bicycling
Stock_Carroll - Bike Lanes University City Thom Carroll, File/PhillyVoice

The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission is set to announce $1.8 million in grants to 23 "regional revitalization" projects across Greater Philadelphia.

Protected bike lanes are coming to Market Street and JFK Boulevard in Center City by the spring, Philadelphia officials announced on Saturday.

As part of a nine-month pilot program, the city plans to install dedicated, parking-protected bike lanes on both roadways between 15th and 20th streets in Center City. Flexible delineator posts along the protected lanes will separate bicyclists and drivers, officials said in a press release.

Plans include new turning lanes and cutting the number of traffic lanes on each stretch of road from four lanes to three, according to a statement from the city.

The work will also include painted islands with flexible delineator posts to shorten crossing distance for pedestrians at key intersections on each stretch of roadway and upgrades to bus shelters, officials said.

The project will cost $50,000, reported.

Mayor Jim Kenney announced the program at the 3rd Annual Vision Zero Conference hosted by the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, a strong supporter of protected bike lanes.

The city will evaluate the project for up to nine months following its completion, after which city officials and Council President Darrell Clarke's office will go over the evaluations and public feedback before determining the next steps.

Michael Carroll, deputy managing director of the city's Office of Transportation and Infrastructure Systems, said in a statement that the project is a great example of modern street redesign.

"We are proud to present a pilot project that will improve safety for employees, business owners, and residents," Carroll said. "I am excited to share the results of the pilot.” 

The plans were welcome news on Saturday morning to bike safety advocates who have been calling for the city to implement more protected bike lanes and other safety measures for years.

But pleas for such changes grew loudly after 24-year-old Emily Fredricks was struck and killed by a trash truck last November while riding in an unprotected bike lane on Spruce Street in Center City. One day later, about 100 cyclists formed a human wall along the bike lane where she was struck. The city repainted the lane several days later, work that activists said was months overdue.

The Bicycle Coalition, which was among the city's most vocal critics after Fredricks' death, spoke highly of the planned project in a statement.

"This project will be the first step to convert Market Street and JFK into safe streets connecting the heart of Center City and the Schuylkill River Trail, while better serving the bicyclists and pedestrians who live, work and commute along them," executive director Sarah Clark Stuart said.

The project is part of Kenney's Vision Zero traffic safety plan, which aims to cut all traffic-related deaths on Philly's streets to zero by 2030. 

Kenney has pledged to install 30 miles of protected bike lanes during his time in office. Philly has some 200 miles of unprotected bike lanes but only 2.5 miles of bike lanes are protected so far, excluding the upcoming project.

The city's first protected bike lane opened in September 2016 along a one-mile stretch of Ryan Avenue in the Mayfair section of Northeast Philadelphia. A second protected bike lane that runs from 45th to 34th streets on Chestnut Street was completed last August.

City officials announced in December that a protected bike lane stretching seven blocks near the South Street bridge will open later this year.

More information on the project can be found here.