Residents living along Ridge Avenue in East Falls enjoy the benefit of being only a block away from scenic Kelly Drive. This route along the Schuylkill River Kelly is run on, biked on and even roller-bladed on by more than 15,000 people per month, making it one of the most popular destinations in the city for a good workout.
While this popular workout destination has many great benefits for the city, one downside to its popularity is the increased bicycle traffic on neighboring streets. One location that sees an increase in traffic more then others is Ridge Avenue in East Falls.
With streets too narrow to implement a full bike lane, many drivers taking Ridge Avenue into work have been forced to share the road with cyclists who use Ridge to get to destinations like Center City.
The East Falls section of Ridge Avenue is so narrow that logistically a full bike lane in that roadway is near impossible to implement said Gina Synder, executive director of the East Falls Development Corp. However, a new project is nearing completion that could soon please both car and bike lovers.
For over two months now there has been ongoing construction on a new bike trial that would extend the Kelly Drive bike path past the East Falls bridge heading into Manayunk. This $1.1 million project is geared toward encouraging bikers to enjoy the many local businesses along Ridge Avenue in East Falls and businesses in Manayunk.
According to a study done by the Philadelphia Bicycle Coalition, the city of Philadelphia has over twice as many bikers as any other major city in the United States. The same study also showed that on streets that offer bike lanes, the amount of bikers on the sidewalk dropped over 10 percent.
With so many bikes darting through the streets of Philadelphia, many residents see an added bike lane as a positive step. Jim Fennell, an avid bike rider, said he sees mixed results with a city trying to please both groups.
“In general, they’re doing a good job of adding bike lanes. But as a pedestrian as well, the city has to do a better job of reminding people they’re not supposed to be on the sidewalk,” Fennell said. “I know people who have seriously been hurt by bikers.”
Harold Wynn, an East Falls resident, said the new lane would decrease the amount of times bikers will have to endure the hazardous task of riding on Ridge Avenue when heading west of the East Falls bridge.
“It can be very difficult at times. You have to get off and walk for some of the blocks,” Wynn said.
While there is no doubt that many people will benefit from the new lane, residents living on Ridge Avenue will be among those who may reap the rewards. Less hazardous conditions for both drivers and cyclists mean happier pedestrians, which could mean more business for local business such as Johnny Mañanas and Trolley Car Café.
With the project set to finish in the coming weeks, both bikers and car drivers will both get what they want–fewer bikes on the streets clogged with cars.