Philadelphia’s Mayor plays a critical role in ensuring that all citizens can use city streets to bike, walk, take transit or drive. The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia prepared a questionnaire for all 2015 mayoral candidates. These responses serve as campaign commitments to Better Mobility in 2015. Lynne Abraham’s responses are in italics.
1. Implementing a Vision Zero Policy. According to Penn DOT, over the past five years Philadelphia averages 94 deaths on our streets, with 33 being pedestrians. You have gone on the record as being in support of a Vision Zero policy. What steps will you take to implement a Vision Zero goal and policy?
I will use every tool at my disposal to prevent pedestrian and bicycle collisions. This includes a combination of new legislation, increased police training and enforcement of dangerous motor vehicle violations (such as running red lights), and evaluation of new technology and procedures for better collection of crash data.
I will work with the Streets Department and PennDOT to identify key corridors for reduction of speed limits.
I will form a Vision Zero task force to develop and meet the goals of my Vision Zero plan.
2. Streets State of Repair. This year, the Streets Department has plans to replace 60 miles of roadway. To maintain a state of good repair, Streets needs to rebuild or resurface approximately 130 miles of roadway each year, and this does not account for the 900-mile backlog, which is approximately 35% of the city’s roadways. Will you commit to doubling the paving budget in the capital budget to reduce the 900-mile paving backlog?
The budget needs a complete overhaul after I tackle the issue of tax reform. Once my tax reform commission makes its recommendations and I implement those recommendations, we will have more flexibility in the budget to allocate additional funds for our paving budget. I also plan on working with the Streets Department to improve its procurement process by reducing wasteful spending on mark-up, materials and other areas I have identified for improvement.
3. The Circuit: The Circuit is Greater Philadelphia’s multi-use trail network connecting communities throughout the Delaware valley and beyond. 300 miles are open, 50 will be on line soon and 400 miles remain to be built. Will you complete 25 miles of Circuit trails in Philadelphia (8 miles along Schuylkill River, 10 miles along Delaware River & 7 miles along Cresheim, Tacony-Frankford and Pennypack Trails)?
Yes. The Circuit provides our City with fantastic opportunities for active and passive recreation and is important in preserving and increasing green space, consistent with the Philadelphia Water Department’s “Green City, Clean Waters” plan. I will commit to completing 25 additional miles of the Circuit.
4. Protected Bike Lanes: The city has over 230 miles of bike lanes but does not have a single mile of a physically protected bike lane, which is now the best practice among bicycle-friendly cities. Protected bike lanes provide physical separation, which can be accomplished by simply moving parking lanes over to provide a physical barrier. Would you support the installation of 30 miles of physically-protected bike lanes over the next five years and 15 miles of standards bike lanes annually?
Providing physically-protected bike lanes is a laudable goal, and I would work with advocates on the feasibility and the best locations for providing physically-protected bike lanes.
I will commit to the installation of 15 miles of standard bike lanes by revision of the Code and the Street’s Department’s regulations. I will ensure that green paint, not blue, is used to stripe bike lanes, as green is more effective at distinguishing bike lanes from other traffic markings.
5. Expand Bike Share: Philadelphia is inaugurating bike share in 2015. The Bicycle Coalition has partnered with Bike Share to provide community outreach outside Center City. We believe making bike share accessible to all neighborhoods in Philadelphia where there is demand and opportunity is important. Would you expand Bike Share to all Philadelphia neighborhoods after 2016?
I am very excited about the new bike share program. It has been a tremendous success in many major municipalities throughout the country. A planned, thoughtful expansion beyond the current geographic areas, based in part on the experiences learned from the program in 2015, makes sense. The benefits of the program are numerous: increased use of alternative transportation, improvement of air quality, reduction of ambient air temperature, decongesting public transportation, and many others.
6. Securing Sidewalk Safety: Philadelphia is going through a construction boom and while this is a good thing for the city, too often contractors close sidewalks making passage dangerous for pedestrians. Will you implement strengthen policy and regulations to ensure that contractors maintain a safe passage around construction projects?
Absolutely. Current regulations for ensuring pedestrian and bicyclist safety around construction projects is ineffective and needs to be reworked. In amending these regulations, I will rely on feedback from my Vision Zero task force and from the BCGP.
7. Complete 3 showcase Projects for the DNC: With the eyes of the entire nation on Philadelphia in 2016, the Bicycle Coalition and other organizations would like to see 3 projects completed to encourage delegates to bike safely to and from the Wells Fargo Center. Will you complete three bicycle projects along JFK/Market Streets, 13th & 15th Streets, and Broad Street in time for the DNC Convention?
Our City has one of the highest per capita bicyclist rates in the Country. As such, we must set an example for the importance of bicyclist safety and efficiency. The DNC provides an excellent opportunity to show visitors how effective bicycle programs can change the transportation dynamic of an urban area. I will commit to completing three bicycle projects before arrival of the DNC.
8. Create an Active Transportation Office. Philadelphia cannot be a leading city for bicycling, walking and traffic safety without a dedicated office. Will you create an office that is tasked with implementing the 2012 Pedestrian/Bicycle Plan and other measures to make Philadelphia’s streets and sidewalks safer?
Yes. As stated in my answer to Question 1, I will be creating a Vision Zero task force to both implement my Vision Zero plan, and to help implement the 2012 Pedestrian/Bicycle Plan. If my Vision Zero task force supports it, I will consider developing an additional office dedicated solely to Pedestrian/Bicyclist Safety.
9. Safe Routes to School. Philadelphia has 162 elementary schools with roughly 100,000 students. The City of Philadelphia has a very small Safe Routes to School program that provides biking and walking curriculum to students and conducts walkability audits to identify how routes can be made safer to encourage more biking and walking to school. Will you support the Health Department having a robust Safe Routes to School program to reach as many students and schools as possible?
Yes. I will work with the Health Department and the Planning Commission to identify and map safe routes to school. Ultimately, I would like to provide these maps to our students using a mobile application that will help them identify where they are, where there school or home is, and the safest route between.