The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia and AARP Pennsylvania released a questionnaire to all mayoral candidates asking for their stances on a set of policy recommendations laid out in the 2023 Better Mobility Platform. We will be sharing responses to the questionnaire in separate blog posts per candidate.

1. Will you introduce legislation to create a new Department of Transportation that includes the Office of Transportation Infrastructure & Sustainability and the Office of Complete Streets?
The Mayor does not introduce legislation, but I do absolutely plan to create a Department of Transportation as part of my administration. Philadelphia is the only major city without a department of transportation, and it shows. Having transportation paired with sanitation is historical vestige that holds back policy and operational advancements. As Mayor, I will combine OTIS with the Streets Departments transportation function to increase accountability for transportation and accelerate the implementation of transportation priorities. It is also worth noting that this separation should benefit sanitation services citywide, with Commissioner and executive that need only be focused on improving waste collection and street cleaning.

2. Will you support hiring a commissioner who will allow for more transparency, efficiency, and accountability which will prioritize Vision Zero over congestion?
Yes. The transportation leadership of a Gym administration will have Vision Zero as the department’s top priority. The philosophical orientation will be to put people at the center of their work and ensure that transportation operations and investment unlock opportunities for employment, economic development, education, good health, cleaner air, and even joy.

3. Will you commit to hiring a third paving crew to reach a pace of paving 130 miles per year of local roads?

4. Will you create a Sidewalk Safety Program, with dedicated staff, and create a $2 million grant program to help low-income property owners repair their sidewalks?
City government needs to lead by example ensuring that sidewalks owned by the city are in good repair and properly maintained. My administration will also fully enforce the pedestrian safety bill I authored in 2017 and ensure safe passage around construction sites. A program to help low-income property owners should be just the first step. In order to maximize the impact of the investment the program will prioritize sidewalk repairs along critical routes for seniors and people with mobility impairments.

5. Will you commit to the 2030 Vision Zero goal and work to strengthen the program by increasing its capital budget to $ 10 million/per year?
Money matters, but money alone will lead to the transformation in traffic safety our city deserves. I, along with my transportation executives, will publicly lead the effort to reduce traffic deaths. As with so many issues that shouldn’t be controversial, but attract opposition, reducing traffic deaths is about making people and their demand for safe streets visible. Simply put, my administration will not put the convenience of some people who drive ahead of the safety of others who chose to walk, ride a bike, or are behind the wheel themselves. Guided by established authorities like the National Transportation Safety Board and National Association of City Transportation officials, a Gym administration will accelerate the implementation of proven safety measures across the high injury network identified in the Connect Plan with special attention to the communities that have for generations been subject to under investment in their infrastructure.

6. Will you support expanding automated speed enforcement to dangerous roads in addition to Roosevelt Blvd?
Yes, absolutely. Speed cameras have been a success on Roosevelt Blvd with 44% few crashes and nearly 50% fewer fatalities, all while the number of speeding tickets declined by more than 90% in less than a year. A Gym administration will seek state authorization to expand them to other roads where we know there is regular speeding. Speed cameras improve traffic safety, while minimizing interactions between police and drivers, keeping our police focused on reducing violent crime.

7. Will you support completing a 175-mile network of protected bike lanes and trails by building an additional 40 miles of protected bike lanes?
Yes, because using bikes for transportation is a choice made by Philadelphians from all walks of life. The city has the highest percentage of bike commuters of any large city, including in some of the lowest income census tracts in North and South Philadelphia. That’s no surprise as commuting by bike is low-cost and highly reliable. Part of this effort should be to update the 2012 Bike Plan to ensure we complete a bicycling network that would meet critical transportation needs. Over two terms 40 miles of protected lanes is just an additional 5 miles of protected bike lanes.

8. Will you commit to building 29 miles of Circuit trails by the end of your second term?

9.Will you support implementing signal prioritization, stop location improvements, and dedicated bus lanes on 10 corridors identified in the oTIS Transit Plan?
SEPTA ridership declined in the current administration, long before the start of COVID. Those declines accelerated during the height of COVID-19 restrictions. While transit services have been restored to 89% of pre-pandemic levels, ridership has recovered to only 57%, which represent more than 550,000 daily riders. Those riders are overwhelmingly city residents and 61 percent of those riders live in households that earn less than $50,000/year. For Philadelphia residents living below the poverty line the top obstacle to employment is transportation, more than double those who report child care or criminal history.

Even though the City doesn’t operate SEPTA, it can meaningfully influence SEPTA’s success through $100M+ annual contribution of City tax payer funds, our board seats, executive involvement in planning, and how we operate city streets.

In multiple surveys SEPTA riders are clear about their needs: a safe, clean, and affordable system that provides frequent and reliable services. A Gym administration should start at the top, ensuring that City appointees to the SEPTA Board are SEPTA riders and transportation experts. It’s critical that steps like those inquired about in this question are taken to increase riders and serve more users. Together with multiple city departments here’s how a Gym administration will deliver on those rider demands:

Safe and Clean:
Ensure cleaning of every Market Frankford and Broad Street Line at the end of every run
Prioritize street lighting improvements around bus stops and SEPTA stations
Increase foot patrols by Philadelphia Police around SEPTA stations and by SEPTA Police and safety ambassadors in stations and on vehicles
Coordinate closely with school district to improve use of SEPTA by students at school dismissal times
Renovate City Hall Station, the crossroads of the system

Affordable System with Frequent Service
Implement 8 to 10 priority bus corridors that include signal priority and dedicated lanes
Equalize the fares between SEPTA Buses/Subways and Regional Rail in North, West, and Southwest Philadelphia, provide $2 fares to 15 station

10.Will you work with SEPTA, state, and regional stakeholders and support legislation that authorizes a regional or municipal tax to fund public transit directly?
The most recent studies of transportation funding options were conducted before travel patterns changed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. My administration will be deeply and actively involved in supporting a refreshed look at options previously considered and building regional support for increased SEPTA funding.

11. Will you support fully expanding Indego to 7000 docks and 3500 bikes to achieve bike share equity?
Yes, while Indego got off to a strong start establishing an equitable system, it has fallen far behind cities like Washington, Chicago, and New York in station expansion in neighborhoods historically left out of transportation improvements.

12. Will you support making it easier for citizens to transform and steward their streets by reducing the burdens associated with placemaking in the Right-Of-Way?
Yes, the city departments need to serve as constructive partners for groups that want to invest their time and resources in the community building benefits of placemaking.

13. Will you support the growth of a portfolio of over 50 parklets, pedestrian plazas, art enhanced intersections and reduce barriers for streeteries?
Yes, the city departments need to build on previous successes in all of these efforts and serve to facilitate the expansion across Philadelphia.

14. Will you create a dedicated budget line for bike lanes and traffic calming maintenance within the PHL DOT budget?
Yes, because it would be irresponsible to increase our investment in infrastructure without an accompanying investment in maintenance.

15. Will you create a dedicated budget line for trail maintenance in the Parks and Recreation budget?
Yes, because it would be irresponsible to increase our investment in infrastructure without an accompanying investment in maintenance.

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