Opening the Vision Zero Conference on Saturday, Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell announced that she would be not be advancing her anti-Vision Zero legislation, which would have made it harder and costlier for the city to upgrade existing bicycle infrastructure.
Blackwell’s decision came, she said, after extended talks with Councilman Mark Squilla and the Bicycle Coalition’s Bob Previdi, and we appreciate her willingness to listen on this issue.
The announcement, though unclear at first, was welcomed by advocates of safer streets at the Vision Zero Conference. The announcement was somewhat overshadowed by the mayor’s announcement of a protected bike lane project coming to JFK and Market Streets this spring.
What the Councilwoman did not mention, but was of course on everyone’s mind: The 600+ people who sent Blackwell and the entire Streets and Services Committee emails urging them to not bring up this bill, and the hundreds who signed 5th Square’s petition, calling upon Council to kill the bill.
As we noted on Twitter at the time of the announcement, this does not necessarily mean the legislation is dead. It still exists in committee. There is just no plan to bring it up for a vote in committee or, later, in full Council. If the Councilwoman changes her mind, we will continue advocating against the legislation, and will oppose it by any means necessary. We will continue working on the much larger ordinance issue, as well.
There is also a larger issue here: The fact that Council can bring up legislation like this, and often does, as a first resort. Such legislation makes streets more dangerous and slows Philadelphia’s commitment to zero traffic deaths by 2030.
But for the time being, we can relax a bit. Thank you to everyone who sent emails, signed petitions, and called Council staffers, letting them know how you feel about safer streets. Your efforts make all the difference.