In more than one post I have taken issue with with the deal the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia made with the Philadelphia City Council for the Safe Streets Bill. Which gave the Philadelphia City Council final approval on all new bike lanes, if they affected parking or traffic lanes. I’m sure the BCGP tried to rationalize this decision by thinking that they would be able to find reasonable accommodation. In the event the City Council tried to use their new political tool.
Now it looks like that choice has come back to haunt them. In this case it involves extending the 22nd St bike lane. As part of Philadelphia’s 2012 Bike/Pedestrian plan this stretch of road was to be redeveloped to include a bike lane. Currently a five block section of 22nd St between Spring Garden and Fairmount is being resurfaced and new lane markers will be put in.
But that it not going to happen and if you cut through all of the doublespeak in the BCGP’s blog post it all boils down to one thing. City Councilman Bill Greenlee claims that there is community opposition to the bike lane and thus the City Council will shut down any development of the 22nd St bike lane extension. The BCGP will need to demonstrate that there is overwhelming support for the bike lane from the residents and business owners along this five block stretch. Even then I remain skeptical as Bill Greenlee will merely call in enough favors to make the process as difficult as possible. As he is the architect of the bill that gave City Council control over all future bicycle lanes.
While the BCGP might be able to marshal its resources this time to overcome the resistance of the Philadelphia City Council. What about the next time? Bicycle lanes in Philadelphia was part of the BCGP’s long term goals. Once achieved, the BCGP negotiated final decision making out of the hands of trained professionals, including Traffic Engineers. Into the hands of irrational professional politicians, all in the name of the Safe Streets Bill. I cringe to think what the BCGP will do to complete “The Loop”.
The BCGP says that this is “an unfortunate complication”. I believe that this will be the first of many unfortunate complications to come. How many more sacrifices will Philadelphia cyclists have to make at the expense of the BCGP’s long term goals?