We can’t stress this point enough: The Philadelphia Streets Department needs more money to get its work done. And that work, in turn, will make our city’s streets better for all road users, increasing the miles of streets paved and the miles of bike lanes installed. And here’s the kicker: You have several opportunities over the next 24 hours to make a real difference in this ongoing debate in City government where change is desperately needed.
As Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia Deputy Director Sarah Clark Stuart wrote for PlanPhilly this morning,
In the case of Philadelphia’s streets, there isn’t even enough cash in the city’s budget to maintain the streets the City is responsible for, much less install new and innovative infrastructure like protected bike lanes, curb bump outs to shorten crossings, speed humps, roundabouts, and other precautions for road users.
The City has a total of 2500 miles of streets that regularly needs to be maintained; repaired, reconstructed, repaved, and restriped. As of 2014, the city had a backlog of 900 miles of streets in need of repaving. In 2013 and 2014, the Streets Department had only enough funds to pave 50 miles of streets over those two years.
Why so few miles? A combination of factors that include not enough funding allocated in the capital program and a federal mandate to spend a significant portion of those limited dollars on handicap access ramps at every corner. But, setting the curb ramp issue aside, it’s hard to not see that the City just hasn’t prioritized paving. In the fiscal year 2015 capital program, the City spent more on “citywide technology improvements” ($29 million) than repaving ($16 million).
Mayor Nutter has proposed an increase in funding in his 2016 budget, but that needs to be approved by City Council before it can become reality.
That’s why we’re asking our supporters to either sign up to give public testimony during City Council’s Streets Department budget meeting tomorrow, or sign our petition so we can bring it to City Council on your behalf.
And, if you have the time, City Council’s questioning of Streets begins at 11am—if you can make it to show your support, please do. The more people we have in attendance, the better.
To recap, here are our recommendations:
1. Sign up to testify before City Council. Instructions and talking points are here. To sign up contact Council President Darrell Clarke’s office at 215-686-3407
2. Sign our “Safer Streets Stories” petition, and tell City Council why you want more streets repaved and repainted.
3. Come to City Council tomorrow at 11am and show your support for more funds as Council questions the Streets Department on what new funds would mean.
4. Come back to City Council at 5:30 to either testify, or show your support for your fellow bicyclists testifying about their experiences on Philadelphia’s backlogged, pot hole-ridden streets.
Whether you can make one of these things, or all of them, participating will make a difference.