Space for bike lanes is always at a premium. At best, we are lucky to be allowed to ride on an unprotected shoulder. Occasionally, cities will gives us a lane we can share with the busses and turning cars.
Today, Philadelphia upped the ante for most bicycle friendly city by opening a 1.1 mile stretch of lane between 45th and 34th streets. This lane is protected by posts and is delineated for bike-only traffic.
The driving force in this change is Philadelphia’s vision 0 campaign. Philly has one of the highest rates of death per 100k drivers in the nation, with over 100 fatalities in their city every year. It is their goal to redesign the most troublesome spots to make them safer for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians.
This lane is not without its detractors. Philadelphia is still a vehicle-focused location, and drivers are frustrated by having to share the lane with cyclists. Which only underscores the need for more of these dedicated lanes, at least until cars get used to looking out for the cyclists.
I think Philly is onto something. If some of these thourghfares can be made bicycle-friendly, then maybe we can start encouraging more people to ride. Converting 5% of that commuting traffic to bikes could make a huge impact on their safety numbers.
And it is a proven fact that, at least in inner-city locations, cycling can offer a lot of relief to congestion.