Friday, April 18, 2014

Are You Ready for the National Bike Challenge? Registration Is Open

Any and all bicycle trips count! Warning: the bicyclist shown here is an immortal professional. Do not attempt.
This year's National Bike Challenge is nearly here! Registration is open at, where you can set up teams and workplaces and log practice miles. The challenge begins for real on May 1st, and runs through September 30th. (Miles recorded during April won't count towards your final totals.)

What is the National Bike Challenge
In a nutshell, it is a nation-wide friendly competition to encourage bicycling by making it a contest. Using the website or one of three(!) smartphone apps, you can log the trips you take by bicycle. You are awarded points for those trips, and points allow for competition on a individual, team, workplace, school, city, and state level.

The challenge rewards riding frequency over distance. It's about using your bike for a wide variety of trips, and encouraging others to give it a try! You can register anytime, even after the start on May 1st. For more information, check out the site's FAQ.

What Is New This Year
The League of American Bicyclists, who runs this program, overhauled the website for this year. The site's functionality, the leaderboards, and other mechanics have been tweaked. They have also facilitated integration with three apps: Endomondo, MapMyRun, and Moves. (No Strava integration yet.)

Why Should I Do This
  • If you already bike regularly, it can be a fun way to compete against your fellow bicycling friends. Form two teams of friends and place a wager on monthly or summer-long totals.
  • The Challenge offers a fun, engaging framework through which to encourage a partner, friend, or coworker to give bicycling a try.
  • The League of American Bicyclists offers prizes based on points level, up to and including new bicycles.
  • Workplaces that encourage bicycle commuting have healthier, more productive employees.
  • Pride and glory.
The challenge begins May 1st. Register today, get your profile and team set up, and start bicycling!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

How to Keep the South Street Bridge Bike Lane Safe After CHOP Expansion

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia has proposed a new building for Schuylkill Avenue with driveways that will connect to the South Street Bridge. We testified on the project at the April 1st Civic Design Review meeting and sent a letter to CHOP today that further clarifies our concerns about the impact of the driveways on the bike lane.

The two proposed driveways for the new CHOP office building seriously degrade the safety of the bike lane on the South Street Bridge. While it would be optimal if the project could be designed to require only one driveway, whether with one or two driveways we believe the safety of the bike lane can be restored by repositioning and protecting the bike lane.

The driveways onto the bridge came as a response to strong community desire, expressed at CHOP-held community meetings, that the project not create increased traffic on neighborhood streets. The second driveway was added to facilitate SEPTA buses reaching the site, as transit access is a priority and buses can't otherwise make the difficult turn from the bridge onto Schuylkill Avenue.

For bicyclists, adding one or two driveways creates additional turning conflicts, on a downhill, on the most bicycled bridge in Pennsylvania. Continuing the existing bike lane to the right of these new turning conflicts seriously degrades the safety of this bike lane.

To mitigate this danger, the bike lane should be:
  • Repositioned to the left of the vehicles turning into the new driveways. 
  • Protected from encroachment by vehicles crossing the bike lane to get to the right turn lane. 
This will require some sort of physical barrier to cars encroaching on the bike lane and also the creation of a right turn-only lane. There are design solutions in the NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide that can restore the bike lane to its present safety level, such as flexible bollards that can be removed during snow season. Other cities have used these solutions but Philadelphia has not yet tried them.

We have asked for the chance to meet with CHOP and the Streets Department to develop a solution that repositions the bike lane and protects it from right-turning traffic.

We made a word choice error in an earlier blog post by suggesting that CHOP had only recently shared plans for the new building with the Bicycle Coalition. In fact, CHOP’s designs have been publicly available but we only commented on them earlier this month.

Peter Grollman, CHOP’s Vice President for Government Affairs, Community Relations & Advocacy, serves on the Bicycle Coalition board.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Bikes, Food, and Music This Thursday on the Camden Waterfront

Correction - DRPA has announced that only the north walkway will be open on Thursday, from 5AM to midnight. The south walkway will be closed all day.

The combination of bikes, trails, live music, food trucks, and site-specific art installations typically makes us think of Philadelphia (woot woot!). But now Camden is getting into the act, with the Camden Night Gardens this Thursday.

The Camden Night Gardens is a free night time art and bike festival on the Camden Waterfront that will take place on Thursday, April 17th from 7:00PM-11:00PM. It will feature local artist performances (music and dance), digital and physically produced projections, site-specific art installations, an illuminated BMX performance, a water-based light production, the presentation of historic record players and recordings, a bike tune-up station and a bike parade.

The Riverfront State Prison used to loom over the Camden neighborhood north of the Ben Franklin Bridge. Now it's an empty lot and its perimeter road, known informally as the Jail Trail, offers unique views of the bridge and Philly skyline. This event is a community-oriented repurposing of that trail and land.

For the convenience of event goers both the north and south walkways of the Ben Franklin Bridge will be open until midnight.  For more information on the Camden Night Gardens visit the event's Facebook Page

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Parking Authority Follows Up on Blocked Bike Lane Complaints

The Parking Authority has given us the preliminary results of the #unblockbikelanes Twitter campaign and has promised us additional measures to improve the enforcement of parking restrictions in bike lanes.

This past December, we helped the Philadelphia Parking Authority launch a Twitter campaign to identify which bike lanes are most chronically blocked by motor vehicles. The PPA reports that over three months (approximately Jan-March), the #unblockbikelanes campaign generated 55 complaints covering 20 different streets. Over the same three months, the PPA and the Police Department wrote 264 tickets for parking in bike lanes at a subset of those locations.

We took the data they gave us and made a basic map comparing the location of complaints with the ticket locations. Red lines indicate where complaints were made and tickets written. Blue dots indicate where complaints were made but no tickets written. The thicker the red line, the more tickets were written on that street.

The main takeaway of this data is that the bulk of tickets are being written on the streets receiving the most complaints: Spruce & Pine Streets, N. 13th Street (between Filbert & Arch), and N. 22nd (near Lombard Street, in front of the 7-Eleven).

In addition to giving us this data, the PPA has told us they are committing to taking these actions to improve enforcement:

  • Have a supervisor do a test run of placing a PPA Officer on a "bike lane detail" to cover Spruce & Pine (Front to 22nd Street), 13th and 22nd Streets.
  • Direct more officers to enforcement on Fairmount Avenue.
  • Direct more enforcement during peak hours and assign supervisors to the entire lengths of Spruce and Pine Streets.
  • Direct more enforcement during morning peak hours on 22nd Street, especially at the intersection of Lombard and 22nd Street.
  • Assign more mobile units to 13th Street b/w Filbert and Arch Street between 8am - 2pm.
  • Have supervisors review the religious institutions' "courtesy" blocks with PPA Officers.
We appreciate the PPA being responsive to our concerns and the concerns of the thousands of bicyclists who use Philadelphia's bike lanes daily. Data shows that bike lanes make streets safer for all users, drivers included, so enforcing no-parking regulations in those lanes contributes to safer streets and fewer injuries all around.

UPDATE 12:15PM: In our meeting with the PPA, the topic of PPA vehicles blocking bike lanes was brought up. Our contact there said they have noticed those reports, and are instructing their officers to not do that. It is worth remembering that a PPA vehicle can stop in a bike lane to load or unload officers, same as a private vehicle or cab can load or unload passengers.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

PennDOT Announces New Bike/Ped Funding Opportunity

In 2013, Harrisburg passed a big transportation bill (Act 89). One of its primary benefits is the $80 million Multimodal Fund. This fun is a new opportunity for municipalities to seek funding for bike/ped projects such as striping new bike lanes, trails, bicycle parking at transit stops, sidewalk connections, and more.

On April 7th, a PennDOT press release announced that the fund was open for applications.
"PennDOT can make available $20 million in Fiscal Year 2014-15 to distribute to successful applicants. Eligible projects can cost between $100,000 and $3 million and they require a 30 percent match from local sources. PennDOT will evaluate the applications and make selections based on such criteria as safety benefits, regional economic conditions, the technical and financial feasibility, job creation, energy efficiency, and operational sustainability. Besides the $20 million in unrestricted funds to be distributed, PennDOT may award grants from the dedicated budget categories in the Multimodal fund for aviation, rail freight, ports and bicycle-pedestrian projects. The application period started today and closes on June 30."
So if you are a municipality, Council of Government, business or non-profit, now's the time to apply for this money! Act 89 dedicates $2 million of the Multimodal fund for bicycle-pedestrian projects. 

Eligible projects include: "A project which coordinates local land use with transportation assets to enhance existing communities, including but not limited to: sidewalk/crosswalk safety improvements, bicycle lanes/route designation, greenways.... and [a] project related to streetscape, lighting, sidewalk enhancement and pedestrian safety, including but not limited to: sidewalk connections, crosswalks, pedestrian and traffic signals, pedestrian signs, and lighting etc..and [a] project improving connectivity or utilization of existing transportation assets, including but not limited to: bicycle/shared markings, bicycle parking at transit stops..."

Important details: the local 30% match must be cash (not in-kind) and applications must include a municipal resolutiton requesting the grant.  PennDOT's fund is separate from the Multimodal Transportation Fund being administered by the Commonwealth Financing Authority.

PennDOT's Multimodal Fund guidance and application can be downloaded here.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Job Opening: Summer Communications Intern

Oliver has three hearts, which
makes even more sense once you
meet him.
It's nearly summer, that magical time when a man's heart, a woman's heart, a child's heart, and all other hearts turn towards thoughts of bicycling. This yearning-heart-turning can cause mild chest discomfort if you don't rotate your torso at the appropriate time and point your heart towards a nearby bicycle. (For office workers, we recommend swivel chairs.) And all this bicycle yearning, taken in aggregate, makes our spring and summer months wicked busy.

So we need some help! We are looking for a communications intern to help us expand our capacity and stave off any local bicycle heart arrhythmia due to erratic or oxygen-deficient bicycle news.

If you're still reading this, that's a good sign! The position is available from May 12th until August 22nd, but the start and end dates are flexible for the right candidate. The position is paid with a stipend, and also a nifty bicycle benefit that can get you a new, free bicycle or a new, low-cost fancier bicycle, depending on whatcha want. (More details at the interview.)

The job description is below, or available via this link. Applications will be accepted until Friday, April 25th.

So come work with us! This is a great opportunity for a college student interested in getting some real-world communications experience, or for a writer or journalist interested in producing written web content and dabbling in communications or web community management.