University officials said yesterday that it is too soon to decide whether Penn will seek to quicken city plans for bike lanes on and around campus, following two fatal bicycle accidents in the past 10 days. Yesterday, Wharton freshman Sung Woo Yang, who went by the name Michael, died after being hit by a truck while traveling north on 33rd Street. And on October 11, 70-year-old Benjamin Tencer, who was taking classes at Penn as part of a special program for senior citizens, died two days after being hit by a car near the busy intersection of 34th and Walnut streets. "We really haven't had a chance to talk as an administration," University spokesperson Ken Wildes said. While the accidents have peaked interest in campus bike safety, plans were already in place to make University City a safer area for cyclists. A joint city and state transportation project -- in which the University is not involved -- calls for the installation of bike lanes on Spruce Street and the resurfacing of Chestnut and Walnut streets to create wider places along the sides of the streets for parked cars and bikers. But those projects aren't scheduled to begin until next spring or summer. Wildes said he could not speculate right now on whether Penn would get involved in the bike lane initiative, but stressed that the University is very aware of bike safety issues, especially after the two recent incidents. "Are we concerned about it? Of course," Wildes said. "We're concerned not only about the safety of bicyclists but pedestrians as well and motorists. We all have to try and live together in this urban environment." And University Police Chief Maureen Rush said that biking in the city is always an activity that should be pursued with caution. "It's very difficult to share the streets, even with bike lanes, and certainly bike lanes are an issue in our area," Rush said. "Through this tragedy, maybe people will keep in perspective that they always have to be careful when they're riding their bikes." But Rush said a bike lane probably would not have saved either Tencer or Yang because of the nature of their accidents. The move to make streets safer for bicyclists stems from a city initiative called the Philadelphia Bicycle Network. Started by the city's Department of Streets in 1994, the network aspires to create over 300 miles of interconnected bike lanes throughout the city. So far, Philadelphia has over 60 miles of bike lanes. Streets soon to be resurfaced and supplemented with bike lanes also include 43rd and 44th streets.Comments powered by Disqus
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