There’s an ominous trend occurring on the streets of Philadelphia. Bicyclists are being seriously injured or killed in accidents involving motor vehicles at an alarming rate. According to a study done by ABC affiliate WPVI-TV, there have been more than 1,500 accidents involving bicyclists since 2014, many of them fatal, rising to over 95 per month during the peak of the riding season. This increase in bicycling accidents has been ongoing for several years and shows no signs of diminishing without serious steps being taken to protect bikers on the city’s crowded streets.
One reason accidents are up is because there are a lot more people choosing to commute by bicycle, and their numbers are growing each year. Philadelphia has one of the highest percentages of bicycle commuters of any U.S. city, and although city planners have acknowledged the severity of the problem and have taken steps to improve safety, with plans to do more, so far it’s been a case of too little, too late, argue bicycle safety advocates.
Speed Cameras and Other Measures Debated
In 2012, the city of Philadelphia adopted a Pedestrian and Bicycle Plan to devise and implement safety measures and increase awareness about the unacceptable number of accidents. It has increased the number of bicycle lanes, and proposed many other long-term measures. Although safety advocates would like to see more done, they acknowledge that the city has a limited budget to devote to the plan. They would like to see a priority assigned to those measures that have been proven to produce results. Among their recommendations is increasing the use of cameras at red lights, along with more use of radar and photographic speed enforcement.
The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia has been among the most vociferous groups speaking out for change. Executive Director Sarah Stuart said, “Speeding is what causes a third of the fatalities in Philadelphia. It is one of the most important issues.”
Added coalition spokesman Randy LoBasso, advocating a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to bicycle accidents, “We need to increase Philadelphia’s streets department budget and increase enforcement, as well as engineer better intersections, employ more red light and safety cameras across the city, connect the on-street bikeway network, and add more bike lanes and protected bike lanes in Philadelphia. We are falling far behind our peer cities. We believe these tactics have been shown to cut down on all traffic crashes in cities across the world that have employed them and that crashes will continue occurring until the city government passes legislation that sets a goal of bringing the traffic death rate down to zero.”
Our proposed 10-Year Plan to Make Bicyclists Safer
Analysis of the patterns of accidents involving bicyclists and motor vehicles has shown that some streets are more deadly than others. Broad Street showed a higher percentage of accidents than any other, accounting for 76 incidents in just over two years. Spruce Street was the next most dangerous, with 63 accidents, even though the street has new bike lanes. Safety advocates would like to see the city focus on these streets first.
Other measures that Philadelphia plans to implement over the next 10 years include:
- Redesigning street corridors to allow for the construction of bike lanes that are protected by a curb or by parked cars.
- Completion of the measures outlined in the Pedestrian and Bicycle Plan and the Complete Streets Bill.
- Better enforcement of speed limits and other traffic laws
- Tougher sentencing of reckless and impaired drivers
- Education and awareness community outreach programs
Philadelphia Accident Litigation
If you’ve been injured in an accident, you need to make sure your rights are protected. Solnick & Associates are always available for a free and confidential consultation. Contact them today to find out more.