Andrew’s a great guy, and MOTU is one of the lonely bulwarks of progressive policymaking in Philadelphia city government, so this shouldn’t be interpreted as a slam on them (obviously he is speaking for many more people than just himself here..) but I thought this was a decidedly unhelpful framing of the issue:
He told me they’ve looked at putting lanes on Broad, but between the speeding drivers, the buses, and the general fuckery (my word, not his) of traffic, “it’s not a place we want to encourage cyclists. It’s one of the reasons we put the bike lane on 13th street.”
He adds: “Putting in the infrastructure [lanes on 13th] has really helped, among other things, increase the number of cyclists on the road. We’ve had a decrease in the actual number of actual cycling accidents in the last 10 years despite the fact that the number of cyclists has increased significantly.”
Still, Broad Street has a lot of bikes riding on it, too—especially across it. So there’s a lot of potential for getting into crashes.
The current configuration of Broad Street didn’t just get zapped down to Earth in its current form. Obviously Philadelphia’s street grid was created long before the invention of the automobile. What happened is that over time, city officials intentionally configured the street into its current traffic sewer formation.
There are three wide car travel lanes (when people don’t park in the third one) and a big median down the middle:
The width of the travel lanes, and the width of the stroad in general, is the thing that makes folks drive like crazy people on Broad Street. All the problematic motorist behaviors Andrew lists would go away if we painted narrower car travel lanes, separated bike traffic from car traffic with medians, and possibly added a dedicated bus lane next to those medians. It could look like this instead:
This would make Broad Street safer for cyclists and pedestrians, and it would better align with where city transportation mode share is headed. The conception of Broad Street as primarily a fast way for commuters to drive in and out of the city is badly outdated.
The dominant view still seems to be that it needs to be that wide, because even though it is pretty empty of traffic most of the day, it needs to accommodate the traffic sewer of suburban commuters flooding out of the city at rush hour. City residents are not the drivers packing Broad at rush hour, and we should not be designing our city streets for the people trying to hightail it out of here at the end of the day.
Broad Street should be a grand avenue geared toward the people who actually live in the city, and it needs to accommodate all modes of transportation safely. A road diet that reduces the level of service for private cars will make the street that much more friendly to pedestrian foot traffic, which will help revive Broad Street’s commercial and residential fortunes – particularly on North Broad which currently is quite treacherous in the blocks closest to City Hall.