At 22nd Annual Bike to Work Day, Council members express support for protected bike lanes

A group of around 50 cyclists celebrated Bike to Work Day with a group ride organized by the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia from the University of Pennsylvania to Dilworth Park capped off by a speech by Mayor Jim Kenney.

Three City Council members joined the ride: at-large freshmen members Helen Gym and Allan Domb, and Majority Leader Bobby Henon.

Henon’s 6th District in Northeast Philadelphia will be the first to see protected bike lanes in the city, which will be installed this year along Ryan Avenue. Henon said he was “super excited” for the bike lanes. “Protected bike lanes [are] the big and new and exciting thing,” said Henon. “Northeast Philadelphia welcomes it.”

The last stretch of the celebratory ride took the cyclists, riding everything from Indego Bike Shares to high-end racing bikes and decked out in suits and skirts to lycra and spandex, down West Market Street’s busy five lanes of traffic. All of the Council members on the ride expressed support for adding a protected bike lane to the street, as the Center City District has proposed doing since 2011.

“If it’s going to protect riders from any kind of accidents, it’s worthwhile,” said Domb, who later praised groups like the Bike Coalition for helping to attract millennials to the city. Domb also noted that Philly has the fastest growing millennial population of the nation’s ten largest cities. “If you can save lives, it’s probably a good idea.”

Henon said he supports more protected bike lanes, period.

“I’m all in favor of protected bike lanes,” said Henon. “More bicyclists are using our streets and rights of ways and I think it’s only fair and safe to have a protected lane, this way we encourage more people to exercise, be healthy, and save some of the carbon exposure by not driving in town. I think it’s alleviate some of the traffic jams from not driving to work.”

Mayor Kenney was introduced by the Geator with the Heater himself, Jerry Blavat, demonstrating that cycling is not the sole province of the young, but perhaps the young at heart.

Kenney said his administration would continue to listen to the cycling community’s needs.

“We’re going to work towards that continued improvement in safety by providing bike lanes, continuing to extend the bike lanes, protecting bike lanes, and to listen to the community,” said Kenney. “Tell us what we need to do and continue to do, because you know best, you do it every day.”

The Bicycle Coalition and politicians were joined by a wide array of bicyclists on the rides: race cycling teams, a group of school children, Indego riders, city employees, bike cops, and women from Gearing-Up, a cycling-focused support group for women who have been incarcerated or recovering from addiction.

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