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photo_nelson_diaz_jrNelson Diaz did not respond directly to our Mayoral Candidate Questionnaire.  But, he did make this statement to Brian Hickey’s interview on Newsworks Ask the mayoral candidates: How will you implement the ‘Vision Zero’ initiative?”

I agree wholeheartedly with the goals of Vision Zero. As an avid biker and regular mass transit commuter, I’ve personally experienced the issues that make our streets much less safe than they can be.

It is problematic that the City Council unanimously usurped the mayor’s traditional power to make major changes to the streetscape of Philadelphia, a move that was in direct response to Mayor Nutter’s attempt to make our city more friendly to transit alternatives.

That’s a vote I’m sure one of my opponents wishes he could have back now that he’s running for mayor. Many of the most consequential changes that we could make as a city require us to repeal this bad — and unprecedented — law.

There is a limited amount of street space in our city, and more of it needs to be dedicated to pedestrians, bicyclists and mass transit. The mayor, who can take a holistic view of our entire transportation network and is less susceptible to NIMBY pressures, should be in charge of setting priorities citywide and implementing them.

We should be actively encouraging alternative options, not only to reduce our reliance on the automobile but also as an equity issue; as recent studies demonstrated, many of those without cars are our poorest citizens.

We can make relatively low-cost investments in things like community parklets, pedestrian islands, better traffic synchronization to avoid bottlenecks and discourage speeding, and traffic calming initiatives that will benefit local communities and the city as a whole.

I also support the expanded use of traffic cameras as a traffic-control device. They’ve often been used primarily as a revenue generator, but I think that traffic control should always take precedence over revenue with cameras. All of these changes should be done in partnership with local groups to make better use of our limited municipal resources. Many of my individual policy proposals in this campaign also involve a simple equation: Neighborhood beautification, whether it’s creating parklets or seizing abandoned or vacant lots, is good for everyone, particularly pedestrians.

Our city has most of the resources we need to be a new-economy hub beyond just ‘eds and meds,’ but we’ve never put them together in a coherent and comprehensive way to make that possibility a reality. Aggressively tackling dangerous streets and looking to make them dramatically safer for pedestrians and motorists alike should be a key component of that plan.

Sarah Clark Stuart

Author

Sarah’s foray into trail and bicycle advocacy began in 2004 when she became involved in the “Free Schuylkill River Park” campaign to preserve public access to the Schuylkill River Trail in Center City, now known as Schuylkill Banks. Since joining the Bicycle Coalition in 2006, she has been a key player in the Bicycle Coalition’s key accomplishments: the $23 million TIGER trail-building grant; naming and building out the Circuit; lobbying successfully for legislation mandating the inclusion of bike parking in new construction projects; Philadelphia’s Complete Streets policy; and coordinating research and analysis of several reports on bicycling in Philadelphia.

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