Philly’s forthcoming bike share program and bike infrastructure improvements for South Philly were given a welcome boost thanks to grants approved by the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) board this week.
The funding is part of $7.5 million in federal Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) funds, which DVRPC awarded for Southeastern Pennsylvania projects that emphasize alternative transportation, like new recreational trails.
The city’s bike share program was awarded a $1.25 million grant. The funding will go toward the larger startup price tag, which is expected to run between $8 million and $12 million. Mayor Nutter has already committed $3 million toward bike share's capital startup costs, and the city recently received additional grant funding to ensure a socially equitable system. More grant applications are in the works and the system is expected to launch next spring.
DVRPC’s Ryan Gallagher said they see bike share as “an important project to our region.” Come September, in a statewide TAP grant round, bike share will be considered for an additional $250,000 grant.
The South Philadelphia Neighborhood Bikeway – which constitutes infrastructure upgrades for South 13th and 15th streets between South Street and Oregon Avenue – was awarded $250,000. That funding will go toward installing sharrows and signage on 13th and 15th streets, as well as Broad Street to redirect bike traffic to the adjacent sharrowed streets.
The Pennsylvania Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) is a competitive federal funding program, using highway and transit funds set aside for projects that contribute to alternative transportation, including on and off-road pedestrian and bicycle facilities.
Read more about TAP at work in Southeastern PA on DVRPC's website. Explore an online map of regionalTAP projects too.
These improvements to 13th and 15th aren’t the bike lanes many may dream of, but sharrows and signs do help reinforce the message that all users must share the road. South 15th Street is a commonly biked street which already does have some sharrows. 13th Street’s existing northbound bike lane begins at South Street, so the sharrow will carry cyclists to the bike lane.
The neighborhood bikeway project should “help get bike users off of Broad Street, especially off of the sidewalks on Broad,” said DVRPC’s Joe Banks.
These two local projects were among 11 announced for the region. DVRPC's TAP funding announcement comes as Congress debates the fate of federal transportation funding programs and Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey proposed getting rid of TAP funding altogether. For their part DVRPC expressed hope that the program would continue annually, at least for now via a continuing resolution and ultimately through new legislation.
A request for comment by the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities regarding the new bikeway and bike share funding was not returned.