HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Bicycle safety advocates, alarmed to learn a long-sought bike lane might not come to State Street after all after Harrisburg leaders stopped work on a street redesign project, urged city council members Tuesday night to preserve the bike lane.
“I think we can all benefit from more bicycle infrastructure in the city,” said Thomas Nazario, who lives in Shipoke.
The move to stop the project came because of a different sense of alarm by a different group of residents — those who live along State Street — when they realized half the street’s parking spots would become no-parking zones during rush hour — forcing many to move their cars twice a day and potentially leading to “parking wars.”
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The idea of the now-stopped plan: to make room for the bike lane by taking away one car travel lane during non-rush hour times and one parking lane during rush hour.
One bicycle advocate read aloud much of an abc27 News report from the night before, which quoted city planner Jeff Speck saying the problem with State Street isn’t that it’s too narrow for enough parking on both sides during rush hour plus a bike lane. The problem, he said, is that it’s too wide to be safe, which was the point of the redesign project.
Speck most recently authored a book called “Walkable City Rules: 101 Steps to Making Better Places.” In his previous book, “Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time,” Speck actually said bike lanes should not always be prioritized above all else — such as pedestrian safety or adequate street parking — on streets that are too narrow for everything. But State Street, he said, is more than wide enough for everything.
Another topic Tuesday: the complaint — also voiced to abc27 last week by Evelyn Hunt, a neighborhood leader and longtime Allison Hill resident who owns an apartment building at 19th and State — that despite neighborhood meetings, the plan was preconceived, and the city didn’t truly listen to residents before devising the plan.
One resident, Melanie Cook, said that alleged lack of engagement with residents was different from along Second Street in Midtown, where work continues on a project to turn it into a two-way street (from its longtime one-way alignment) and add three roundabouts.
“They need to copy that model and afford the people who live in and around State Street the same courtesy they gave the people who live on sit on Second Street,” Cook said.
Hunt also spoke at Tuesday’s meeting, expressing concern about the idea of reducing the number of travel lanes on the street (which she said would leave too few lanes after snowstorms) and opposing the addition of bike lanes.
“We’re taking up a lot of space in the city with bike lanes that people aren’t using,” she said.