Opposition to Vision Zero Bike Lanes in Philadelphia Stems From Concerns for Pedestrian Safety

cyclist riding while lifting front wheel of a bike

Philadelphia Has Plans for Protected Bike Lanes to Reduce Accidents and Injuries, but Not All City Residents Agree

Many residents of Philadelphia feel that it is a good idea to install protected bicycle lanes in order to prevent bicycle accidents. According to a recent article in the Philly Voice, the Streets Department’s work on new bike lanes in the city has not met with approval from everyone. More specifically, the planned bicycle lanes, which are part of the Vision Zero initiative to reduce and ultimately eradicate pedestrian and bicycle accident injuries and fatalities in the city, are viewed as the product of a decision-making process that is “obviously undemocratic.”

According to the article, City Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell introduced legislation that would require the city council “to approve any modification to an existing bicycle lane that would affect the flow of traffic.” In other words, members of the city council want to have a say in which new bicycle lanes are developed or existing bicycle lanes are enhanced for better cyclist safety. Why does the city council need to approve these safety developments? The article notes that “many residents . . . complain that they feel they are in the dark about coming changes to streets and don’t like them.” According to Blackwell, “in my district, when it comes to approving of or disapproving of bike lanes, it’s 50/50.”

Do some Philadelphia residents really disapprove of new and safer bicycle lanes? The answer is yes. The article highlights how the Blackwell’s office received numerous complaints after the “Streets Department eliminated a traffic lane on Chestnut Street to make room for a protected bike lane.” The issue is not that many residents believe bicyclists should not be protected, but rather that changes to the city streets will not have the desired effect—fewer bicycle collisions—and at the same time motorists will have one less traffic lane, which could result in confusion and more pedestrian-vehicle accidents. Blackwell’s proposed legislation, if it were to pass, would mean that many of the plans for protected bike lanes in Philadelphia could end up being scrapped if residents do not approve.

The issue of protected bike lanes and if it will result in more pedestrian-motor vehicle accidents continues to grow in every state around the U.S. Time will tell what will happen in terms of increased bike lanes in Philadelphia in particular, given the above discussion.

Bicycle Safety: What do You Need to Know?

With or without protected bike lanes, if you are bicycling in Philadelphia or if you are a motorist who regularly shares the road with cyclists, what do you need to know about bicycle safety? The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides the following facts and figures:

  • More than 1,000 bicyclists suffered fatal injuries in the U.S. in 2015;
  • Nearly 467,000 cyclists sustained nonfatal injuries in bicycle collisions;
  • Highest rates of bicycle fatalities are among adults between the ages of 50-59;
  • Highest rates of nonfatal bicycle accident injuries are among children and adolescents between the ages of 5-19;
  • Children and adolescents account for more than one-third of all nonfatal bicycle accident injuries that result in visits to emergency departments; and
  • The majority of bicycle fatalities occur in urban areas.

It’s important to keep the above information in mind so as to avoid a pedestrian-vehicle accident or other injury resulting from a lack of bicycle safety. If you or someone you love was injured in a bicycle accident, contact a bicycle accident attorney to determine your rights.

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