Friday, September 23, 2011

Reader Feedback

Following the post about Chinatown and Bicycle Lanes I received this e-mail from Peter F. a reader in New York City about his recent experiences riding Philadelphia's bicycle lane. While many of us take for granted what we experience it is always interesting to see how an outsider experiences them.
Nice blog!  I'm a NYC bike commuter, who was in Philly Friday....took my folder on AmTrak, as you can see from the pix.  Feel free to publish it and my account below! 

Here's a story of my return ride to Penn Station 30th from Independence Sq that I wrote to my friend, a fellow cyclist who lives in Philly:

Spruce Street bike lane is very nice. As you instructed, from Independence Square I picked it up a few blocks away and took it to 22nd Street which I thought you said.  But unable to get onto JFK Boulevard from 22nd I continued on it in search of the next Left to Penn Station. Which took me to the absolutely lovely new green painted bike lane on Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Like Dorothy finding the Yellow Brick Road, I was certain I arrived at the Nirvana of newly bike-able  Philly. I  hung a left toward the Art Museum  Surely there would be additional  bike routes there to lead me to 30th Street Penn Station. 

And yes, there are more pavement stripes that look like bike lanes at the Eakins Oval by the museum.  Nice!

Buoyed by this excellent experience I check Google Maps (unfortunately Ride the City, which maps bike routes in many cities, omits Philly) and saw promising walking directions via the Schuylkill River Trail path and figured I would take that. But I missed the entrance to the trail.

 No matter, following the circle another 100 feet or so I take a right on 24th Street which has a new painted  stripe on the right side. "I am a bike path" it says to me. Down the hill I ride, confident that I will emerge on a route back to JFK Boulevard.  

The "lane" gets narrower. "And what's with the trucks?" I say to myself  Seconds later I am on a narrow strip at the side of the US Highway 30 with no exit in sight until I get a half mile back to 15th Street!  Ugh!  Nothing like riding over sewer grates and discarded highway garbage with a few feet separating a concrete wall from 6 ton semis. And too narrow to turn around and go back. I commit to the terrifying ride to the first exit. Low gear and slow so if I fall I'll be on the wall side. 

I make it safe and sound, and once again am impressed by the pharmacologic effects of adrenalin! 

If you point me to a Philly DOT site I will compliment them on what is a much improved bike network but ask them to post a clear sign on the 24th street intersection that it leads to the highway and what looks like a bike lane is not one at all. Of course, they should paint diagonal lines in the space between the line and the curb so that it would be obvious this is curb space and not a lane.   The Philly bike network seems to be largely paint anyway, so this is inexpensive to do. 

Plenty of excitement for one day.  And looking at the map, you likely said 20th Street and not 22nd for the R turn from Spruce. That damn bike lane on 20th and the green painted beauty on Franklin seduced me into a false sense of a traffic-calmed Philly. It's rough side just a few moments away!

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