To the left, to the left. Everybody in a bike lane, to the left.
Cyclists once cruised down the University City section of Walnut Street on the right side of the road, facing dangerous traffic obstacles and creating potential safety risks whenever SEPTA and LUCY buses dropped off or picked up passengers.
Now, that’s all changing. In an effort to improve public safety, the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities and the Pennsylvania Department of Transporation are moving the bike lane to the left side of Walnut Street. Maureen S. Rush, vice president of the Division of Public Safety, says the new bike lanes have been partially installed and currently begin at 33rd and Walnut.
Eventually, city officials say, the left-side bike lanes on Walnut will stretch from 22nd Street to 63rd Street. “Signs will be posted by the city shortly to alert bicyclists to this change, and [Penn’s Division of] Public Safety will remind the Penn community about these changes during its upcoming annual Share the Road campaign,” Rush says.
City officials expect construction on the new bike lanes to be completed by the end of the semester. When finished, the lane will feature a painted buffer between the area for bikes and the motor vehicle lanes.
“Other cities have found that locating bike lanes on the left side of one-way streets with frequent bus service is better for transit riders, bus drivers, and bicyclists alike, and takes no more room away from car drivers,” says Charles Carmalt, the pedestrian and bicycle coordinator for Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities.
“The bike lane is a one-way facility for westbound bicyclists,” Carmalt explains. “Eastbound bicyclists should use Spruce, Chestnut, or Market Streets.”
He says the city plans to eventually resurface the entire length of Walnut Street—from 2nd to 63rd—as well as renovate the Walnut Street Gateway, including widening the sidewalks and installing new lighting to make the area more pedestrian-friendly.
Originally published on September 13, 2012