City Council plays a pivotal role in ensuring the safety of its citizens while using Philadelphia’s streets. The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia prepared a questionnaire for all 2015 at-large and District Council candidates. These responses serve as campaign commitments to Better Mobility in 2015. Tom Wyatt’s responses are in italics.
- Adopt and Implement a Vision Zero Policy. Many cities including New York, San Francisco and Seattle have adopted “Vision Zero” goals and policies to reduce the number of crashes that kill and injure people. Will you support the adoption of a Vision Zero goal to reduce traffic deaths and injuries? Will you support the appointment of a Vision Zero task force of city and community leaders to examine the 30 most dangerous intersections to develop and implement safety improvements in order to reach the Vision Zero goal?
I support the adoption of a Vision Zero policy for Philadelphia. Other cities and countries that have introduced such policies have experienced reduced fatalities and more awareness of traffic safety. These goals are important to keep Philadelphia at the forefront of pedestrian and bike‐friendly cities in the US. Further, I support the appointment of a task force to identify the most dangerous intersections and an action plan that will implement the safety precautions that will make our city’s streets safer and reduce traffic crashes.
2. Streets State of Repair. The budget for improving our streets has fallen behind. This year the Streets Department has plans to replace 60 miles of roadway. To maintain a state of good repair the Streets Department needs to rebuild or resurface approximately 130 miles of roadway each year, and this does not account for the 900-mile backlog, which is approximately 35% of the city’s roadways. Will you vote in favor of doubling the paving budget in the capital budget to reduce the 900-mile paving backlog?
I am in support of an increase in the paving budget to increase the miles paved and improve our streets. Philadelphia has the lowest rate of per‐capita spending for transportation needs, including repaving. I am advocating to phase out the Net Income Tax and gradually raise the Gross Receipts Tax, while also increasing commercial space value as a result of business tax reform. This would increase tax revenue without further taxing Philadelphia’s working families and reinvest in our under‐funded public schools and other important city services, like repaving our city streets.
3. Protected Bike Lanes: The city has over 230 miles of bike lanes but does not have a single mile of a physically protected bike lane, which is now the best practice among bicycle-friendly cities. Protected bike lanes provide physical separation, which can be accomplished by simply moving parking lanes over to provide a physical barrier. Would you support the installation of 30 miles of physically-protected bike lanes over the next five years and 15 miles of standards bike lanes annually?
With the recent rollout of Philly’s bike share program, I believe it is more important than ever to install physically protected bike lanes. Other cities, like Pittsburgh and Boston have been able to install such infrastructure and have proven that such efforts reduce traffic crashes and keep our citizens safe.
4. In 2012, two important pieces of policy and legislation were adopted and passed. The City’s Planning Commission adopted the Pedestrian/Bicycle Master Plan, which identifies the streets and locations that need improvements for new bike lanes and sidewalks. Under Councilman Squilla’s leadership, Council voted unanimously to pass a Complete Streets bill to improve the safety of all streets for all users. Do you support the Streets Department installing bike lanes called for in the Pedestrian/Bicycle Plan when streets are repaved?
I support all of the goals outlined in the Pedestrian/Bicycle Plan. Installing more bike lanes in the city will result in improvements to the safety, attractiveness, and convenience of our bicycle network.
5. Expand Bike Share: Philadelphia is inaugurating bike share in 2015. The Bicycle Coalition has partnered with Bike Share to provide community outreach. We believe making bike share as accessible to all neighborhoods in Philadelphia where there is demand and opportunity is important. Do you support the expansion of Bike Share to all Philadelphia neighborhoods after 2016?
According to the 2010 US Census, 1/3 of Philadelphia households did not have a car. This underscores the importance of having an expansive Bike Share program that is accessible to meet the needs of bike users in Philadelphia across its various neighborhoods. Once the results of the program’s first year of operations are analyzed, I support expansion of the program where demand and opportunity are appropriately established.
6. Securing Sidewalk Safety: Philadelphia is going through a construction boom and while this is a good thing for the city, too often contractors close sidewalks making passage dangerous for pedestrians. Do you support stronger policies and regulations to ensure that contractors maintain a safe passage during construction?
Yes, many of the city’s traffic accidents and fatalities are the results of unsafe and inaccessible pathways for pedestrians in construction sites. I support stronger policies to improve pedestrian pathways around and through construction sites, including enforcement of laws and regulations protecting against encroachment on sidewalks and bicycle detour routes in and around ongoing construction.
7. Create an Active Transportation Office. Philadelphia cannot be a leading city for bicycling, walking and traffic safety without a dedicated office and staff. Will you support the creation of an office that is tasked with implementing the 2012 Pedestrian/Bicycle Plan and other measures to make Philadelphia’s streets and sidewalks safer?
I believe that there needs to be a coordinated framework between City Council and the new administration to oversee Philadelphia’s transportation and infrastructure policies. I support the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia’s Better Mobility Platform, which calls for the appointment of a senior official to be responsible for transportation infrastructure, policy, enforcement, and coordination among Streets, Water, Police, Parks & Recreation Departments, Septa, and the Philadelphia City Planning Commission. Further, I think the creation of an office that can develop and implement transportation policy; including the 2012 Pedestrian/Bicycle plan will result in significant improvement to Philadelphia’s transportation and infrastructure.
8. Safe Routes to School. Philadelphia has 162 elementary schools with roughly 100,000 students. The City of Philadelphia has a very small Safe Routes to School program that provides biking and walking curriculum to students and conducts walkability audits to identify how routes can be made safer to encourage more biking and walking to school. Do you support the Health Department having a robust Safe Routes to School program to reach as many students and schools as possible?
The “Safe Routes Philly” program has served more than 50,000 children in the city across more than 130 schools. It has resulted in a variety of programs to improve walking and biking safety in Philadelphia, including the purchase of safety equipment, development of bicycle ambassador programs for students, and implementation of “walking school bus” programs. As more schools are forced to close, the needs of students to walk further to school will increase and I support additional funding for a more robust “Safe Routes Philly” program that reaches more students and develops additional programs for students.