Bicycle safety improvements on the way!


Pavement markings, such as above on Chestnut near 30th Street, enhance road safety.


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.


2 Responses to Bicycle safety improvements on the way!

  1. Hopefully 34th and Spruce will get repainted!!!

  2. James Walker says:

    Two points.

    1) The vast majority of red light camera tickets go to very safe drivers using two main scams.
    A) The yellow intervals on the lights are deliberately set too short for the ACTUAL approach speeds of at least 85% of the drivers when traffic is free flowing under good conditions. State rules often allow this deliberate mis-engineering of the lights to generate more camera tickets.
    B) Cameras ticket slow rolling right on red turns or drivers who stop just over a line before proceeding. Federal research shows that only 0.4% of crashes at signalized intersections and only 0.06% of crashes with an injury or fatality also involve a right on red turn. Thus at least 99.6% of right on red camera tickets are for money, not safety.
    2) Investigative reporters got the crash data from the Philadelphia Police Department in 2005 when the ARLE program was new and again in 2011. Both sets of data showed that crashes were UP at red light camera intersections.

    James C. Walker, Life Member-National Motorists Association,
    (I was the NMA representative that testified in Harrisburg in 2011 in an unsuccessful attempt to end the Philadelphia red light cash register program and prevent it from going to other cities.)

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