Plan’s aim: Make N.W. Philly better for bikers, walkers

As a haven for bikers and walkers, Northwest Philadelphia is a far cry from Portland, San Francisco and even sections of Center City. But a new city plan could help.

The city’s new Pedestrian and Bicycle Plan reports that the Northwest has some of the “most pressing issues relating to the bicycle and pedestrian networks” in the city. Parts of the area, particularly those near parkland, aren’t pedestrian friendly because they lack sidewalks. At the same time, many walkable streets are narrow and lack room for bike lanes.

 On Tuesday, the commission adopted the plan, which is a joint effort with the Department of Human Services to take on these dual challenges. The city’s never had such a plan for pedestrians, and Philly’s bike plan hasn’t been updated since 2000.

In the Northwest, the plan notes, one particularly lousy place to be a pedestrian is Germantown Avenue and Durham Street. The complex intersection doesn’t have a single marked crosswalk, and drivers tend to overlook foot travelers. The plan offers a myriad of solutions: add curb extensions, remove parking spaces, or create high-visibility crosswalks along the avenue, among other things.

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 The effort should please cyclists: It calls for bike lanes on several streets without them, such as Shawmont Avenue, Hillcrest Avenue, Gravers Lane, Seminole Avenue, Penn Street, Upsal Street and Locust Avenue. (The plan, which also encompasses Center City, South Philly and North Philly, would add a total of 60 miles of bike lanes to the city.)

 Where the plan doesn’t beef up bike paths, it adds shared lanes instead — on Hagy’s Mill Road, Old Line Road, Mt. Airy Avenue, Washington Lane, Manayunk Avenue, Schoolhouse Lane and others.

 At a meeting last week, the commission made clear that these changes should go hand-in-hand with more rigorous enforcement of bike laws.

 “As there starts to be more opportunities for biking safely, I would hope that there would be less of the illegal activity — particularly riding on the sidewalks,” said Alan Greenberger, the deputy mayor for planning and economic development, and a resident of Mount Airy.

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