Today, in part one of our journey, we'll take a look at bike/ped projects in West and Southwest Philly. Tomorrow, we’ll finish our rideabout in Center City with a deeper look at the intricacy of reshaping city streets.
Philadelphia has more than 200 miles of bike lanes and a greater share of per capita bike commuters than any other big American city. Some of Philly’s bike lanes were installed years ago on the city’s widest streets simply because there was room. Others are part of a new wave of bike infrastructure that is happening in no small part because of Mayor Nutter’s Complete Streets Executive Order
. “Complete streets” are those where uses are more balanced in favor of multiple modes of transit, rather than complete auto-domination.
But just because bike planning is a public priority doesn’t mean that MOTU has the go-ahead for a wild bike-infrastructure binge. Interventions that make the city bike-friendlier usually happen in conjunction with other projects - like utility work, track replacement, street paving, or bridge repair - and with multiple partners. Every move, particularly during these lean budgetary times, has to meet multiple bottom-lines. And it helps that MOTU is charged with inter-agency project coordination.
So what is MOTU up to when it comes to bike and pedestrian planning? Our journey begins in West Philly.
Pedestrian Plaza Preview:
Charles, Aaron and I pedaled up Spruce Street, then out Baltimore Avenue to check out the site where a new pedestrian plaza will be built this year. The intersection of Baltimore, Florence, and 48th is an awkward , wide 5-point knot of confused drivers, intersecting transit lines, with cyclists and pedestrians thrown into the mix. The upside: the intersection's huge expanse makes it ripe for new interpretation.