Everybody who rides a bike can tell you which roads seem the most dangerous to bike on, but to get city or state government to spend money and political capital on reconfiguring roads for bike and pedestrian safety, you need to actually be able to prove that the roads are dangerous.
That’s what makes the Bike Coalition’s new interactive map of bike crashes in Philadelphia such a powerful tool. Once people know which streets have the most bike crashes, they can start asking politicians for changes to the streets to make them safer.
Unsurprisingly, the most crash-prone street is Broad Street, with elevated numbers of crashes on other wide streets like Spring Garden, Washington Ave, and Market:
- Broad & Spruce – 10 crashes
- Broad & Pine – 9 crashes
- Broad & Spring Garden – 9 crashes
- 34th & Spruce – 8 crashes
- Broad & Washington – 7 crashes
- Broad & Vine – 7 crashes
- Schuylkill Ave & Chestnut – 6 crashes
- 38th & Spruce – 6 crashes
- 38th & Market – 6 crashes
- 16th & Arch/BFP area – 5 crashes
- 30th & Chestnut – 5 crashes
- Broad & Walnut – 5 crashes
- 5th & Market – 5 crashes
- 22nd & Market – 5 crashes
The Bike Coalition points out that these are not weighted for cycling volume (that’s forthcoming), so one thing this data could be telling us is just that these streets see the most bike traffic. It is also only a map of reported crashes, which is problematic since so many bike collisions go unreported.
But come on: six of the top 14 locations are on Broad Street in Center City, and every cyclist you know hates riding on Broad.
It is time to turn Broad Street from a traffic sewer into a grand avenue. The city is nearing a tipping point in terms of urban biking. We’re getting bike share next year, and bike commuting numbers in Center City and South Philly are in the range of big biking cities like Portland and Milwaukee. The two major streets bisecting Center City need dedicated space for bikes, and we need to start thinking about creating more woonerf streets (especially in South Philly) where cars are the lowest priority mode share.
Here is Steve Stofka’s idea for how Broad St. might look as a grand avenue. Currently there are 4 travel lanes, 2 parking lanes, and a big useless median wasting space in the middle. Instead, we could have a separated bike and parking space, with 2 bus-only lanes, and 2 car lanes:
The second example contrasts Philadelphia’s Broad Street–a classic example of a grand avenue converted into atraffic sewer arterial, with Paris’ Av. Kléber. The former looks like this on Streetmix.
and the latter, this.
I find myself going into Stroad to Boulevard territory here: notice that there is 30′ of pedestrian realm on either side of the street, versus 16′ on Broad Street. The bike and parking functions are both elements of a single shared service street, which the sidewalk spills onto; transit islands can also be installed on the green medians separating the two realms from one another. The bottom line isn’t just that there is more people space–and less car space–on the Av. Kléber; it’s also that one perceives of the Av. Kléber as being more humanized, and narrow, than one does of Broad, which feels more autocentric, and wide.
I like the idea of using the green medians for bus boarding, and for Bus Rapid Transit along Broad Street. Remember, we’re talking about possibly extending the Broad Street subway line down to the Navy Yard – a worthwhile idea, but one which will cost about $300 million.
How much less than that would it cost to reconfigure the road like this and dedicate lanes to buses? Or why not do both and have two good rapid transit options on Broad Street that can support more population density along the corridor?
(via Randy LoBasso)