How space could be rearranged on Benjamin Franklin Parkway

Green bike lane on Ben Franklin Boulevard

Green bike lane on Benjamin Franklin Parkway (photo by author)

On Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the bike lanes are painted green.  But don’t be fooled, this visual nicety is unlikely to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  A simple rearrangement of street space could have made this street feel (and be) worlds safer for people riding bikes, say, with their children.

By shifting lines on a computer screen during the design phase, engineers could have created a parking-protected bike lane (like the ones pictured here in Chicago).  Estimating visually from left to right, we have a nine foot parking lane, a ten foot vehicular travel lane, and a five foot bike lane.  Nine feet is excessive for parking lanes, which are often six feet wide.

If the designer wanted to bestow on society the many benefits of protected bike lanes, they would have recommended the following (from left to right): ten foot vehicular travel lane, six foot buffer (for the door zone), and the bike lane remains where it currently is.  Notice that the curb line doesn’t move and no travel lanes are removed.  Street space is simply rearranged.


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