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Finally, Some Good News for Philly Cyclists

There's been a lot of bicycle news coming out of Philadelphia recently, and it hasn't all been good. Two pedestrians were killed in October by bike riders, including one hit-and-run incident. Those crashes led to a controversial proposal to register bikes and to jack up the fines for bikes without brakes.

4080725704_d3bdbc9823.jpgThese bike riders will get to keep their lane on Philadelphia's Spruce Street. (Photo: K_Gradinger via Flickr)

To many bikers who see motorists flouting laws every day, this response seemed out of proportion. While it has led to a mostly healthy debate over road safety, a stepped-up enforcement effort against bicycle scofflaws seems to many like a case of misplaced priorities, considering how many crashes are caused by drivers who are flouting the law.

So it was something of a relief to hear some unadulterated good news out of Philly last week. The city has recommended that recently installed buffered bike lanes on Spruce and Pine streets be made a permanent part of the streetscape.

Today, Streetsblog Network member Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia puts the Spruce and Pine lanes into perspective. They say that in the historical context of the organization's advocacy efforts, the lanes' approval is up there with getting bike access to regional rail and the development of a citywide bike network:

There is no doubt about it, the City's recommendation to make the buffered bike lanes on Spruce and Pine Street permanent ranks as one of the most important wins for bicycling in the history of the 37-year-old organization.…

It's hard to say which victory has or will have the greatest impact. Geographically these transformations took place on a macro, meso and a micro level respectfully, but all have demonstrated that what was thought to be impossible can be made routine.

We like that idea, of the impossible becoming routine.

More from around the network: Copenhagenize has some cool pictures of bicycle riders out to demonstrate at the ongoing climate conference. Design New Haven has a post on a new digital initiative to facilitate the reuse of wasted public spaces. And Saint Louis Urban Workshop reports on a proposal for a new bike lane on a bridge across the Missouri River.