We sent a questionnaire to the four people running for the Democratic nomination for the Pennsylvania gubernatorial race. The governor is an extremely important person in setting the state’s transportation priorities. We encourage all registered Democrats to vote in the primary on Tuesday, and we encourage everyone to vote in the general election in November.
We will be publishing the candidates’ responses here between now and Monday. For background on why we asked the question we did, see this blog post.
Survey and Answers
In the state of Pennsylvania, 12% of all traffic fatalities are bicyclists and pedestrians. While overall traffic fatalities are decreasing, bicycle and pedestrian deaths are not. Unlike our peers in New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, New York or almost any other state in the country, PennDOT does not have a bicycle and pedestrian office.
1. What value do you see in encouraging biking and walking in Pennsylvania?
Generally, I believe the commonwealth should do more to encourage non-motorized forms of transportation as a means of reducing traffic congestion, encouraging healthy physical activity, and reducing automobile pollution. That requires making communities and roadways friendlier to pedestrians and bicyclists. I’m pleased that last year’s transportation funding bill recognized the need to invest in bicycle and pedestrian projects. As governor, I will ensure those dollars are spent wisely and that bicycle and pedestrian projects that apply for funding are given full consideration.
2. Will you set a goal to reduce pedestrian and bicycle fatalities by half by 2025?
Yes. Based on federal statistics, I believe there are specific things we can do to improve safety. For instance, in 2012, the highest risk period appears to have been between the hours of 4 p.m. and midnight. Forty-eight percent of bicyclists and 56 percent of pedestrian fatalities occurred during this window. Additionally, nearly 70 percent of bicyclist and 73 percent of pedestrian fatalities occurred in urban areas that year. If we focus on these two areas alone, we can make a measurable difference and dramatically reduce the loss of life.
3. PennDOT needs to establish a bicycle and pedestrian office that is adequately staffed to:
- update PennDOT design manuals and train PennDOT engineers in current bicycle and pedestrian best practices,
- update and monitor the statewide bicycle and pedestrian master plans,
- assist MPOs, counties and municipalities in drafting bicycle and pedestrian master plans,
- develop a data-driven cost estimate of building out all proposed bicycle and pedestrian facilities, trails and bicycle routes statewide that can be included in the Long Range Transportation Plan.
Will you establish such an office?
Yes. I want nonmotorized modes of transportation to be a priority, but that cannot happen so long as the people within state government who are responsible for advancing the issue are competing with other interests and demands on their time.
4. Will you ask PennDOT and DCNR to set 10-year goals for the number of miles of bike lanes and trails to be built across Pennsylvania?
Yes. That work must start with developing a master plan – something that I believe is long overdue in Pennsylvania. To the best of my knowledge, PennDOT’s last master plan for bicycle and pedestrian transportation was published in 2007. After seven years, it’s time for an update, and I will engage multiple state agencies, as well as the public (specifically including PA Walks and Bikes, the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, and BikePGH) in that work.
5. Will you support spending a percentage of federal Transportation Alternatives Program funds and Pennsylvania’s Multi-Modal Fund on Safe Routes to School projects?
Yes. Obviously the Safe Routes to School program is targeted at making sure our children can make it from home to their classrooms safely, but these projects benefit the entire community. I want to ensure we’re taking full advantage of every potential federal dollar and that we leverage public funds to secure the most funding from other sources. Additionally, we need to ensure schools have the expertise they need to successfully pursue this funding and advance the projects they’ve identified.
6. Will you support speed camera enforcement for roads where excessive speeding is a particular safety hazard?
I do support speed cameras because I think they can be an effective and efficient deterrent against speeding, which consequently could save lives, too. And while I’m sensitive to concerns over the accuracy of these automated systems, I do not think that concern represents an insurmountable challenge. If the legislature allows speed cameras as an enforcement tool, I want to be sure we implement only the most dependable and reliable systems and test it thoroughly to ensure accuracy.