The Philadelphia Vision Zero Alliance — a group of more than 30 organizations around Philadelphia dedicated to safer streets for all Philadelphians — sent out a questionnaire to all City Council candidates, asking for their opinions on a host of issues.
The below answers are from Andrew McGinley, Liberal Independent running for City Council at-Large.
Philadelphia is the “most biked” big city in the United States, but lacks the high quality infrastructure necessary to make cycling accessible to people of all ages and abilities to use a bicycle to get around the City. Will you actively support installing at least 40 miles of protected bike lanes by 2025?
Yes. As someone who travels the City primarily by bike and public transit, I know firsthand how important these lanes are. Without protection folks treat these lanes as little more than additional parking or delivery lanes. I am often forced in to motorist traffic because lanes are blocked.
Installing protected bike lanes, similar to the ones on JFK and Market Street, would greatly enhance our infrastructure and encourage people of all ages to use bikes for City travel.
If you answered yes, what do you believe is the most effective action City Council should do to provide Philadelphians of all ages and abilities with stress-free access to walking and biking throughout the city?
We need a two step approach to this issue. First, we must actually enforce the laws already on the books to keep intersections safe for all travelers. The PPA and police force do not ticket motorists who use bike lanes and crosswalks as parking spaces and this must stop. Secondly, we must add the infrastructure discussed in question one to make biking safer and provide the funding to maintain and improve that infrastructure. I think we should seriously consider daylighting intersections in high foot traffic areas and areas around schools. Finally, we have to get the politics out of the process. The decision to alter lanes and intersections should be made by trained professionals.
A 2012 law gives City Council, not engineers, final authority over the installation of protected bike lanes that replace a travel lane. This has led to a process that can take several years to install safe infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians, especially when compared to Philadelphia’s peer cities. As a City Councilperson, will you support rescinding this law and giving final authority back to engineers?
Simple fixes like added pedestrian lead times at intersections and speed humps can make streets safer, but are difficult to request and even more difficult to enact and install. How can Council help make these, and other, safe streets processes easier and more transparent for local communities?
Council must hold administrative departments accountable for their responsiveness to community members and organizations. In my previous neighborhood it took months and countless phone calls and in person meetings to simply have public trash cans installed. This way of doing business is unacceptable.
We should also be investing in communications initiatives across the City to inform neighborhood groups about the ways in which the City can make streets more pedestrian friendly.
The City’s congestion and parking challenges are impacting the daily lives of Philadelphians and transportation is Philadelphia’s second largest contributor to carbon emissions and air pollution. Will you commit to addressing these problems by authorizing new, clean transportation options like shared electric bikes and scooters and expanding safe infrastructure for their use?
Yes. A robust network of environmentally friendly transportation options should greatly reduce congestion in the City and improve environmental conditions. A system of e-bikes or scooters could be a solution to the “last mile” problem transit users often face. If we can solve this problem, I believe we can reduce the number of ride share service pickups and drop offs that slow or stop traffic in high density areas.
I also think we need to get serious about bus lanes if we want to reduce congestion. Protected bus lanes in Center City would make public transit so much more efficient and would encourage new riders, thus further reducing the number of private cars on the street.
Philadelphia does not dedicate funds to maintaining its Vision Zero projects. Would you support dedicated funds in the City budget for maintaining Vision Zero projects like protected bike lanes, re-striping crosswalks and bike lanes, filling in potholes quickly, and replacing physical infrastructure like flex-posts and curbing?
Yes. Each day I ride through center City on the “bike lanes” on Pine and Spruce. Not only are these lanes not protected, they are not even painted on the street anymore. They must be regularly upgraded and taken care of. Otherwise cyclists are in danger and motorists may not even know they are violating the law. The lack of basic maintenance puts far too many people at risk.
The Philadelphia Vision Zero Alliance is a coalition of 30 local organizations dedicated to bringing Philadelphia’s traffic deaths down to zero. The Vision Zero Alliance, and the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, does NOT endorse candidates. These answers are solely for you to form an opinion on candidates running for office in the 2019 City Council primary.