Philadelphia Needs to Enforce Laws Surrounding Bike Lanes to Prevent Bicycle Accidents
Do bike lanes in Philadelphia actually prevent bicycle accidents? According to a recent article in Metro Philadelphia, Center City bike lanes routinely get blocked by parked cars, making these alleged safe spaces for cyclists ineffective. As the article explains, in Center City, Philadelphia, “the buffered bike lanes on Spruce and Pine streets have deteriorated,” and as such, bicycling is not as safe as it could be.
One cyclist in Philadelphia spoke about the problem with the city’s bike lanes, noting, “It feels like the use of bike lanes as bike lanes is secondary to people who want to use it for deliveries, picking people up, dropping people off, parking for church, work truck parking, getting their mail, and delivering the mail.” According to the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, “more than half of those streets’ bike lane paint has [become] . . . faded or nonexistent.” The Bicycle Coalition created the hashtag #FadedPHL to map areas where bike lane paint is too worn to be effective. When a driver cannot see a bike lane, a bicycle accident can happen.
In addition to missing paint, residents of the area have also noted that bicycle safety signs are noticeably absent, as are other forms of protection. What do cyclists in the area want? In short, “some kind of physical protection between the bike and motor vehicle lanes” that will help to prevent cars from stopping or parking in areas designated for cyclists.
Bicycle Safety Tips for Philadelphia Residents
Until bike lanes in Philly are protected from motor vehicle intrusions, what can cyclists do to help prevent bicycle accidents and injuries? A safety tip sheet from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety recommends the following:
- Always wear a bicycle helmet;
- Look ahead instead of toward the ground when you are riding;
- Never ride with more than one person per bicycle;
- If you are riding with other cyclists, ride in a single file line and leave space between your bikes;
- Ride with traffic (rather than against it);
- Avoid riding your bike on busy roads at peak traffic times;
- Check your visibility if you plan to ride your bike at dusk or in the dark;
- Keep your bicycle well maintained;
- Use hand signals to communicate your plans to turn, stop, or change lanes;
- Be aware of roadway hazards, such as rough or slippery surfaces, or objects on the road;
- Never wear headphones while you are riding your bike;
- Keep both of your hands on your handlebars unless you are signaling;
- Keep both of your feet on the pedals; and
- Know how to use—and then actually use—the correct hand signals.
Hopefully, bike lane safety will improve sooner rather than later. In the meantime, if you were injured in a bicycle accident in Philadelphia, contact an experienced bicycle accident lawyer to determine your rights.