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Why a Complete Streets Commissioner is so Important for Philadelphia

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Earlier today, Philadelphia Magazine reported that the Kenney Administration would be appointing a Complete Streets Commissioner—something for which we’ve been advocating, and part of a major priority we put in our Better Mobility 2015 platform.

Just a month into the new Kenney Administration, and it’s great to see many of our priorities and asks coming to fruition. As noted in the Philly Mag story, the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia’s advocacy work has created a real shift as it pertains to the way cyclists are perceived by the Philadelphia community, and the government.

Bikers and urbanists are a recognized political constituency in the city, deemed deserving of virtually their own commissioner.

That doesn’t mean cyclists won’t disagree with Council ever again, but it does mean that they’ll show up to the battleground with more power. The Bicycle Coalition is a big part of the reason this shift has occurred. Last year, the group released a platform for mayoral and Council candidates, which included establishing a Complete Streets Office. It is also organized a mayoral forum, where every Democratic candidate said they supported the “Vision Zero” goal to put an end to traffic deaths.

It’s a big win, for sure. And to tell you more about why this is so important, I asked Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia Policy Coordinator Bob Previdi why a Complete Streets Commissioner is so important for the city and how he hopes to work with this person.

Bob:

Bicycle Coalition Policy Coordinator Bob Previdi

Bicycle Coalition Policy Coordinator Bob Previdi

The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia has advocated for improved infrastructure for cyclists for over 40 years.  During this time we’ve learned that having a complete view of how a street functions is good for everyone. So, of course we are very excited that Mayor Kenney will be hiring a Complete Streets Commissioner – whose job it will be to look at everything from the point of view of a user. We believe that putting safety first and coordinating investment will ultimately benefit all citizens, businesses and taxpayers alike.

This is what makes the concept of a Complete Streets Commissioner so intriguing. Having someone high enough in the Mayor’s cabinet who is trying to plan by taking the long view is very important—and, as the Philadelphia Magazine article makes clear, cyclists are now an officially recognized and powerful priority for city government.

This person will coordinate work on the street that prioritizes the ability for pedestrians, cyclists, drivers and public transit users to get around. Such a position that makes “sure our streets are as multimodal as possible, including advocating for protected bike lanes,” as Kenney spokeswoman Lauren Hitt notes in the Philadelphia Magazine article is exactly what Philadelphia needs for its growing bicycling community, and for an administration that says it’s interested in Vision Zero.

We’re excited to see who Mayor Kenney appoints to this new position and work with that appointee and her or his team to advance Vision Zero to reduce traffic deaths, ensure all road projects meet Complete Streets guidance, and that implementation of the Pedestrian/Bicycle and Trails Master Plans are fully supported by agencies and their capital and operating budgets.

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