Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Bike Lanes or Lip Service

Bicyclists fought for them, motorists honked for them, and people like me - who cycle for recreation and drive on that occasional trip to Ikea - didn't really think much about them one way or another.

But from the sidewalk to the road to Google maps, you can't help but see them everywhere. They're here. In a dense city with a unusual obsession with the car, Philadelphians have their bike lanes.

Well, sort of.

What we have is the city's reaction to law suits, accidents, activists, and challenges from dense cities in the Pacific Northwest.

Look around. Most of these newly painted bike lanes are little more than adjusted curb space. Lanes for cabs and angry commuters to abuse. Time will tell if our substantial mileage lives up to the hype.

It's true, Philadelphia doesn't have a lot of room to spare. Even compared to Manhattan, our streets are narrow and our sidewalks are narrower.

And while many bike lanes in Seattle and Portland bear a striking resemblance to the white lines being laid down all over Center City, we have something they don't: a generally pissed-off-at-the-world population willing to mow down hipsters first, deal with the consequences later.

Without any barriers between me and GPS driven SUVs, I'll still be walking my bike to the Schuylkill River Trail.

Portland, OR, a densely populated and pedestrian friendly city, installed bike-specific stoplights allowing cyclists a head start, as well as green paint to designate the specificity of its bike lanes.

1 comment:

  1. I would like to see bollards or some other physical barrier installed in the Class II lanes (i.e. the ones along Spruce, Pine, 11th, and 13th). Unfortunately, Verna had her way and since they're also supposed to be used for church parking, you can't exactly install them...Sigh.