Randy Lobasso wears two hats in Philadelphia, he is the spokesperson for the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia and citizen journalist for Metro Newspaper. Where he writes columns about bicycling and infrastructure. In his most recent piece, “Philly Needs to Change its Street Safety Approval Process”, he bemoans the growing problem of Philadelphia’s City Council control over bike lanes.
You see in Philadelphia, City Council, not Civil Engineers, have the final authority as to whether or not a bicycle lane is installed. Any City Council member can stop a bicycle lane from being installed for any reason or no reason at all. This is often done by claiming “neighborhood concerns” or cherry picking which replies from community members are valid.
However Mr. Lobasso glosses over the key reason why this has happened with this statement, “It's time Council gives up this unneeded privilege it gave itself five years ago and leave street safety to the experts.” Philadelphia’s City Council didn’t wake up one day and engage in coup d'etat to take control of bicycle lane infrastructure, it was given to them by the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia in May 2012. Which I wrote about in “Dancing with the Devil.”
In exchange for an ineffective Safe Streets Bill the BCGP agreed to let Philadelphia City Council pass a bill giving City Council final approval of bicycle lane infrastructure. The same bill that City Council tried to pass in 2011 and was stopped by the BCGP when they marshaled their forces against it.
So let’s face it everyone, while the Philadelphia City Council is the problem, they will never give up control over bicycle lanes. The root of the problem is the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia. They are the ones that made this deal in the best interests of Philadelphia cyclists. A deal that continues to work against the needs of the Philadelphia cycling community. The only question that remains is when will the BCGP learn that Philadelphia City Council can not be trusted and how many more deals like this will be made before they do.