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Exciting changes recommended for bicyclists, pedestrians in West and Southwest Philly

Toole Design and the Philadelphia City Planning Commission held two open houses earlier this month to present an exhausting list of bicycle and pedestrian improvements to West and Southwest Philadelphia. The Planning Commission is recommending that a myriad of different types of bicycle lanes and sidewalk enhancements be created in the west and southwest sections of the city.

Dan Goodman, a senior planner at Toole Design, envisions a West and Southwest Philadelphia where bicyclists and pedestrians are put on an even field with motorists. To achieve this, Goodman plotted buffered bike lanes, non-buffered bike lanes, and specially marked lanes to be shared by 2- and 4-wheeled modes of transportation. The audience at the University City open house was tantalized by Toole's vision for buffered bicycle lanes on Belmont Ave. and Lindbergh Blvd. "Belmont and Lindbergh might have enough room to put a bike lane and buffer," says Goodman.

Goodman says that Toole is also examining putting "sidepaths" on City and Island Aves. What's a "sidepath," you ask? He explains that a sidepath is a sidewalk for bicycles that is ideally constructed on a street so heavily traveled by autos that removing a lane is impractical. The design firm in also researching uphill bicycle lanes and downhill shared lanes on certain West and Southwest streets, such as 65th St. Finally, Goodman reassures bicyclists that West Philadelphia's Vine and Pine Street bike lanes will probably be moved away from the bus lane.

While bicyclists were a large part of Toole's study, the designers also drafted ways to make West and Southwest sidewalks more hospitable to pedestrians. Currently, "sidewalks are in such poor condition in some areas that they're deemed missing," concludes Goodman. Goodman said the Planning Commission is especially interested in fixing sidewalks around train stations and bus hubs.

It's important to note that there's no guarantee anywhere near all of the bicycle and pedestrian recommendations being made by Toole and the Planning Commission will be implemented. At the University City open house, the deputy transportation commissioner in the Streets Department, Steve Buckley, attended to give a realistic assessment of the plan's chances for success. Buckley made it clear that there was no certainty that every recommendation would actually happen. The deputy commissioner did divulge that money gleaned from red light cameras would go toward re-striping bike lanes.

Toole Design and the city are studying West and Southwest Philadelphia as part of the second phase of their Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan. The first phase represents most of the city's population, and covers Center City, South, Northwest, and most of North Philadelphia. The rest of the second phase is comprised of Northeast Philadelphia, communities around the Delaware River, Olney, and East and West Oak Lane. Two additional open houses will be held this week, with one in Juniata and the other in the far Northeast.

Source: Dan Goodman, Toole Design
Writer: Andy Sharpe
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