Biking along Walnut Street is about to get a heck of a lot easier thanks to a new left hand, buffered bike lane that will soon appear on Walnut Street from 22nd Street to 63rd Street. As it stands today, Walnut Street already has a right, curb side bike lane that serves parts of Center City and the biker-oriented communities of UPenn and Drexel. But thanks to the efforts of the
Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia
, The Streets Department
and the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities
, the bike lane is getting a serious upgrade, just in time for the beginning of school.
The main crux of the improvement is found in its one-of-a-kind status: the bike lane is the city's first buffered bike lane next to a parking lane, as opposed to Spruce and Pine and 10th and 13th, which are next to the curb line. This will greatly affect students and other bikers who already utilize Walnut Street for their biking needs. According to Nicholas Mirra of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, users should immediately notice the differences.
“It will eliminate conflicts with buses and traffic turning right on the Walnut Street Bridge to the Schuylkill Expressway,” he says. “It will also make the left turn from the 22nd Street bike lane easier for bicyclists. It should also slightly reduce conflicts with car doors since the bike lane will be next to the passenger side of cars.”
While this leaves plenty for bike enthusiasts to be excited about, auto users, too, should be at ease over the planned improvements. According to Mirra, the lane is being installed without the removal of a travel lane or parking. Space was made by simply narrowing the existing parking and travel lanes.
Getting this improvement implemented was a relatively routine process and a refreshing example of cooperation at its finest.
“The Streets Department and the Mayor's Office of Transportation and Utilities have been considering moving the bike lanes from the right side of the street to the left side of the street as part of the routine resurfacing of Walnut Street [which is currently underway],” says Mirra. “The Coalition met with them and proposed that there was enough road space to expand the bike lane.”
In January, armed with this knowledge, the Streets Department approached PennDOT to incorporate the improvement into the resurfacing project, and they obliged. Nine months later, this September, the bike lane will be open and ready for public use.
While there are no anticipated existing bike lane improvements slated for 2012, Mirra hopes similar enhancements will be made in the years to come as other road resurfacing contracts are announced.
: Nicholas Mirra, Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia
: Greg Meckstroth