New bike safety street markings approved for Main Street

Cyclists in search of a safer ride along Main Street in Manayunk got some welcome news Tuesday during the City Committee meeting of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia.

At the regularly scheduled monthly event, Philadelphia’s Chief Traffic Engineer Charles Denny announced that the busy commercial corridor will be painted with sharrows as part of an upcoming citywide pavement marking contract.

The sharrows will be added along “the entire length [of Main Street],” said Denny “And probably up to the Kelly Drive interchange.”

The street markings, which typically feature a bicycle with a pair of pitched lines above, are placed a short distance from parked cars and help announce to drivers that they need to share the road with bikers.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

The project has already been bid and awarded. Denny said the work will likely start sometime this spring. He didn’t have an estimate on an end date.

The small group crowded inside the Coalition’s Walnut Street office applauded the news, both figuratively and literally.

Long-time Manayunk resident Darlene Messina, who’s been particularly outspoken about bike safety in the Main Street area, was grateful to learn the bike-safety markings would likely run all the way to the entrance to Kelly Drive.

“I’m really pleased to hear about the plans to put the sharrows all the way from Shurs Lane to the Wissahickon Transfer station. That’s great news.”

But Messina and others still had concerns about the speeding cars and buses in that stretch and weren’t convinced the sharrows would help. The posted limit is 25 m.p.h.

“From the CVS to the transfer station, that’s going to remain a racetrack after sharrows are on there I would imagine,” said South Philadelphia resident Andrew Levitt.

Other members suggested putting in an outbound bike lane or narrowing the road there to make things less dangerous for bikers.

Denny said both of those ideas would be tricky to approve. The bike lane in particular, he said, would likely receive a cold reaction from Manayunk residents.

“They don’t want to do anything that would force more parking into the neighborhood,” said Denny.

He suggested people contact SEPTA when they see buses speeding down Main Street.

Messina said she may follow-up with the city’s 5th Police District, which includes Main Street, to push for stricter enforcement of the speed limit. Though, she’s not optimistic about the response.

“You don’t get a lot of enforcement with speed limit in Philadelphia,” said Messina. “As we know on Kelly Drive, which is 35 m.p.h, people go 50 [m.p.h].”

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal