In Society Hill, a disagreement over how to protect bike lanes

A cyclist.
Photo credit paolo81/Getty Images
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Philadelphia officials will revisit the issue of bike safety in Society Hill after cyclists protested the lack of a physical barrier between bike lanes and traffic at intersections in the neighborhood. 

Emily Fredricks, 24, was killed two years ago when a trash truck plowed into her as she rode her bike at 11th and Spruce streets. That prompted new safety measures, including shifting and repainting the bike lanes on Spruce and Pine streets and putting up flex posts to protect the lanes at intersections — but only west of Eighth Street.  

Deputy Managing Director Mike Carroll says Society Hill residents objected to the posts on aesthetic grounds.

"At least a portion of the residents there were very concerned that the flex posts were strongly out of character and would significantly degrade the character of their neighborhood," he said. 

But the pushback from cyclists has been just as strong, and the city is reconsidering. 

Randy Lobasso of the Bicycle Coalition says many residents of Society Hill are calling for flex posts now. 

"For every day we wait, there could be someone else who potentially gets hurt," Lobasso said. 

The leadership of the Society Hill Civic Association remains opposed, and president Larry Specter says it's not just because of aesthetics; he says the posts create a number of problems.

"They obstruct buses, they obstruct trash vehicles, they obstruct snow equipment," he said. 

The group commissioned a study that recommended other ways to protect bikes at intersections. Specter says he's troubled by the animosity the issue has created.

"There really are two legitimate points of view on this and there has to be a way to accommodate the need for safety without flexible bike posts and instead with the alternatives that were in the study," he said. 

With both sides dug in, the issue is not likely to be resolved easily.