Signs welcoming visitors to Philadelphia that boast it is bicycle-friendly may have to be reprinted to include the proviso that the city's open arms are contingent upon City Council approval.
With his proposal that would require most bike lanes to be authorized by Council ordinance, Councilman William Greenlee likely will make the city less cycling-friendly over time.
The measure appears to be racing toward approval in Council this week, despite the compelling case made against the concept by the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia.
With good reason, Greenlee's idea was sidelined last year, when he raised it the first time. Now it has been dressed up with a fig leaf of an amendment that permits pilot-project bike lanes, but ultimately gives Council a veto.
As such, the measure can't possibly help the city make progress on adding to the bikeways designated along some 200 miles of streets for what could be a world-class network of bike lanes.
Mayor Nutter is saying he can live with the amended bill, and the bike coalition has signed on, too — while noting, significantly, that it shouldn't "be necessary to pass a bill in order to install something that dramatically improves safety for all street users."
Yet the only plausible reason the bike-lane measure has been crafted is because Council wants to have its own veto over expanding the network of lanes.
Greenlee contends he's only interested in assuring that there's a full public airing of bike-lane proposals, but making sure the public is involved is exactly how Nutter has moved ahead with additional bike lanes to make it safer for cyclists in Center City.
First off, the city several years ago established an overarching policy that says streets should be developed for all users — motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians. On top of that, the City Planning Commission spent months and months developing a plan that maps out the best locations for new bike lanes — and it did so with public input.
With the Center City lanes, Nutter has run pilot programs, checked the impact on traffic, and, as in the case of a stretch of 10th Street in Chinatown, pulled back in the face of objections.
Creating more red tape for bike lanes sends the message that the car remains king in Philadelphia, and that the goal of building a more sustainable, less-polluted city is a lower priority.