Bicycle safety improvements on the way!
January 22, 2014 2 Comments
Last month, the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia published a map of crashes involving bicyclists within the City from 2007 through 2012. Crash mapping can help prioritize safety improvements, but a crucial caveat (as mentioned in the Coalition’s post) is that the map does not take into account bicycle traffic volumes, and that many of “hot spots” on the map correspond to the locations most frequently traveled by Philadelphia bicyclists. Without calculating crash rates, a location with multiple bicycle crashes may be more indicative of its heavy bicycle traffic rather than any unusually high crash risk. In fact, citywide statistics suggest that bicycle safety has been improving steadily over the past few years. Even though the number of bicycle commuters in Philadelphia has more than doubled since 2005, the number of reported crashes involving bicyclists has remained relatively constant at around 250 crashes per year. Reportable crashes resulting in injuries to bicyclists constitute between 2-3% of all reportable crashes.
This coming year, MOTU and the Streets Department will continue to improve safety for bicycle riders and other roadway users with projects funded by the Automated Red-Light Enforcement (ARLE) program. In Pennsylvania, several towns and cities, including Philadelphia, are using cameras to enforce red lights at certain intersections. After paying for program expenses, the ticket revenue from ARLE is dedicated to transportation projects throughout the state.The most recent round of ARLE grants included $1.5 million for Philadelphia.
One of the chief priorities of ARLE-funded projects is to create a safer environment for all roadway users, and one set of projects in Philadelphia, Bicycle Pavement Marking Enhancements, is targeted specifically toward bicycle safety. From now through the end of summer 2014, MOTU and the Streets Department will improve pavement markings within bicycle conflict zones at 34 intersections and over approximately 7 miles of bicycle lanes. The project will also introduce “sharrow” markings along 150 blocks of streets and refresh bike lanes that have become worn. This project was initiated at the end of 2013 and should be completed by the end of summer 2014.
The first markings funded by this project that we can expect to see this spring will be on Columbus Boulevard (from Race Street to Spring Garden) and at the intersection of Spring Garden and Pennsylvania Avenue.
As part of other ARLE funded safety projects, the City will be making minor changes to how intersections are marked to improve safety for pedestrians and bicyclists. For example, stop bars will be located further from crosswalks to make pedestrians more visible to drivers, and room is being made for bicyclists to better position themselves at intersections while a light is red.