Testing 10th Street:
Aaron and I rode east to 10th and Pine where we stopped and watched plenty of cyclists zip southward on the pilot bike lane on 10th Street. This lane was temporarily installed as of November, and it's been far from the easy win that 13th Street was. What gives?
First, the upside: Near Jefferson, the 10th Street bike lane is well used and even creates a useful emergency lane for ambulances. (Score one for the unintended bike lane benefits.) Below Market Street, bike traffic is up about 125% on the pilot lane, but above Market a different story is brewing.
Chinatown is not thrilled about the idea of a 10th Street bike lane.
Members of the Chinatown business community are very concerned
that a 10th Street bike lane will create more traffic congestion, discourage shoppers who arrive by car, and delay deliveries. And for months there have been several meetings
between bicycle planners and advocates
and staff from the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation to help understand Chinatown’s concerns.
It’s easy to see that 10th Street in Chinatown is busy: There is a fire station, trucks are perpetually loading and unloading, and nearby construction pushes cars onto 10th. Plus, some Chinatown merchants apparently doubt that very many people who visit Chinatown are arriving on bike.
MOTU is still doing outreach in Chinatown and collecting data about the pilot lane. The Bicycle Coalition is also lending a hand with a survey
to see how shoppers travel to and from Chinatown.
So is 10th Street in Chinatown too congested to handle the new lane?
Technically speaking, Aaron explained, the 10th Street is a lot closer to its capacity than 13th Street is. A single-lane street can handle up to 800 cars per hour, and it seems that the traffic on 10th Street is near that threshold. MOTU projected that 10th Street could handle the shift, but this very tension demonstrates the value of a bike lane's real life trial phase.
“This is a very complex system and we have to make sure things work,” Aaron said. Plus, he added, “We can’t be successful in the face of lots of opposition.”
So when 10th Street is repaved between Callowhill and South streets this year, it remains to be seen if a new bike lane will make the cut.
For the next Multimodal with MOTU adventure, I’m teaming up with MOTU and SEPTA for a ride-about this month. Stay tuned.