Thursday, February 01, 2007

Comment on the BCGP Mayoral Questionnaire

The BCGP is seeking comments on the questionnaire and the deadline is Friday, February 9. (Click on the comments link below). Afterwards, it will be sent to the candidates and their responses will be posted on the blog.


Mayoral Candidate Questionnaire

February 2, 2007

Bicycling is a barometer of Philadelphia’s health and livability. Cities ranked as the best bicycling cities in America also rank consistently as among the nation’s most desirable places to live. Bicyclists riding on City streets and trails are indicators of cleaner air and an active, healthy population. Bicycling saves residents and employers money on transportation and health care. And bicyclists mean more business for neighborhood shops.

About 400,000 Philadelphians rode a bike in the last year and 25,000 use their bike to commute to work at least once a month. Philadelphia is well positioned to become the most bicycle-friendly city on the East Coast – but only if the City plans for it. The next mayor and city council have a number of excellent opportunities to take actions that would make bicycling safer and more attractive for city residents and tourists.

Would you support the creation of a Bicycle Pedestrian Coordinator to shape transportation policy?

Philadelphia is the only major city in the United States that does not employ a full-time bicycle/pedestrian coordinator. Not only would the coordinator help identify funding for many pedestrian-bicycle transportation projects but the position itself can be nearly (80%) fully funded from federal Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ) funds. Would you support the creation of a Department of Transportation? Philadelphia is the only major city on the East Coast that does not have a Department of Transportation. A department is needed to shape and implement transportation policy that considers all users of the transportation network.

Would you support the creation and implementation of a new citywide bicycle/pedestrian plan that positions Philadelphia as the most bicycle-friendly city on the East Coast?

Following the model of the Chicago Bike 2010 plan, a new bicycle-pedestrian plan for Philadelphia can be substantially paid for through any number of federal transportation funding programs.

Would you support free and clear bike lanes that connect the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers and close the gaps between bike lanes in all neighborhoods?

After striping over 200 miles of bike lanes, Philadelphia has seen annual increases in bicycle traffic of 6% over the last decade and a remarkable 24% increase from 2005 to 2006. But there are still many gaps in the bike lane network which discourage the city’s 400,000 bicyclists from using their bicycles more often. An east-west bike lane through Center City is especially needed to make non-motorized travel from river to river easier, safer and more enjoyable.

Would you support increased enforcement of traffic laws through: the installation of 100 red light cameras, a bike-based parking enforcement patrol and a street-based education program to discourage bicyclists riding on sidewalks?

Endemic red light running, double parking in bike lanes and bicyclists riding on sidewalks rank high on Philadelphia bicyclists concerns about riding in the city. Action on these enforcement issues will improve quality of life for bicyclists, pedestrians and car drivers.

Would you support the installation of 1,000 bike racks in each City Council district?

Bike theft continues to be a major reason why Philadelphia’s 400,000 bicyclists don’t use their bicycles more often. Installation of bike racks at important retail sites, schools, recreation centers, houses of worship and other popular locations is a highly visible way of encouraging residents to use their bicycles instead of driving.

Would you support the completion of the Schuylkill River Trail extension to Fort Mifflin?

Plans to extend the Schuylkill River Trail from Locust Street all the way to Fort Mifflin need to be made a priority. The completed trail would create a unique experience for residents and tourists alike, connecting Southwest Philadelphia to Center City and providing access to Bartram’s Garden and Heinz Wildlife Refuge. It would also be instrumental to completing the Philadelphia segment of the East Coast Greenway, which stretches from Maine to Florida.

Would you support all-day closures of Martin Luther King Drive to through traffic, while continuing to allow auto access to the upper drive parking areas?

The opening of the Schuylkill Trail from Locust Street to Martin Luther King (formerly West River) Drive has created a new and unique opportunity to make the west bank of the Schuylkill River a six-mile recreation corridor on weekends between April and October. Tragically, the ten-year-old decision to re-open the lower half of the road to automotive traffic after Noon has resulted in a number of crashes at Sweet Briar Road. A five-year-old child was killed last year when a reckless driver sped through the gate at Sweet Briar. Closing the gate at the Art Museum from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. would ensure that at least one portion of the park’s road system is reserved for recreation on weekends.


John Boyle said...

Leave your comments on the Questionnaire here.

Anonymous said...

Would the Schuylkill River Trail extension to Fort Mifflin allow for Airport access? Is that worth mentioning as a potential benefit (and access for employees as well as travelers?)

"Bicyclists on sidewalks" is the only infraction listed. I would add other endemic infractions such as riding without lights, wrong-way cycling.

Anonymous said...

I think these are all very crucial questions to be asked of all future city leadership. For the question about putting in red light cameras, etc. - perhaps we could ask for funding for additional driver education as well. As a commuter cyclist that rides on the road every day, I've experience a great deal of driver ignorance in regards to the rights of cyclist. People have literally run me off the street and yelled at me because "Bikes don't belong on the road". Such a gross misconception needs to be addressed beyond the "Share the Road" signs, which I notice since I bike but I think drivers rarely do.

Another comment about the Bike Lanes, which are a great concept but I feel need a little extra "umph". I ride in various lanes on my commute and it's not uncommon for cars to nearly knock me over because I need to ride near the outside of the bike lane to avoid potential mishaps with car doors opening into my lane. Basically, bike lanes need to be a foot wider, if possible, to create the necessary 3 ft buffer recommeded when riding along parked cars while still leaving some safe space on the side of traveling traffic.

Finally, the bike parking patrol program would be SO VERY HELPFUL! There is such an epedemic of bike theft in this city right now. Even with two U locks and a cable on my bike, I still hold my breath every time I walk back out to my parked bike, hoping it's still there.


Thanks for the great awareness raiser on these issues!!!

Anonymous said...

Please include DRIVER education in the question about preventative measures being implemented. Many drivers in this city believe cyclist belong on the sidewalk and will forcibly push a cyclist off the street with their car by times (this has happened to me on several occasions). The "Share the Road" signs don't seem to do the trick. It would be great to put in place more aggressive measures for educating drivers on cyclists' rights!

If red light cameras are going in, I strongly suggest putting one at that East Falls Bridge and at the pedestrian crossing on Ridge Ave where the Wissahicken Creek Trail begins.

Bike parking patrols are an AWESOME idea!!! Bike theft is rampant in this city!

Any new bike lanes need to be a foot wider to give more of a cushion between parked cars and traffic traveling alongside cyclists. Rephrase question to future leaders to include the concept of widening lanes?

Anonymous said...

1. The excellent rationale for the Bike/Ped Coordinator includes the formation of a Phila. DOT. The questions should reflect this. Example: Would you support the creation of a Phila. Dept. of Tranp.
including a full time Bike/Pedestrian Coordinator.

2. Free and Clear bike lanes needs to be defined in the rationale.

3. In the question about parking enfocement the use of bikes by enforcement officers needs to be explained since we don't want them riding on the sidewalk either. Are we talking about using them to commute between locations while on the job?

4. In the question about bike racks, include bike racks at city buildings, i.e. libraries.

5. In the question about the Schuykill River Trail completion add a statement that talks about increased tourism and commuting to the airport

kwattles said...

For what it's worth, I've found Philadelphia drivers to be fairly considerate and predictable, which adds up to "safe" in my experience. I've been bicycling in city traffic for ~35 years, in half a dozen cities including Philly for more than 20. I don't expect biking utopia, and of course there's room for improvement, but as long as cars exist there will be risks.

I've never heard "Bikes don't belong on the road." If drivers are ignorant, I think of it as part of my job to teach them, by example. Which means I take the space I feel I'm entitled to, with proper visibility, hand signaling, and of course I do wear a helmet... Sometimes I put myself in places where if they were totally ignorant or belligerent I'd be dead.

It's a bit off topic but I'm responding to a comment above, and I think would-be mayors and others should hear that there's a base of good-will and understanding to build on, rather than us telling them there's an ongoing war on the streets between cars and bikes. If there was a war, driver education wouldn't be high on the list of priorities. Instead we'd be talking about extensive re-engineering of streets and intersections, new laws and tough enforcement.

Anonymous said...

I feel the question about discouraging cyclist and keeping cyclist off sidewalks is a dangerous and unsafe position and also, if I remember correctly is a contradiction to motor vehicle code ,which to paraphrase, permits cyclists to use a sidewalk when they feel unsafe on the street-you must remember not everyone with a bike is as highly experience as the members of the coalition. Educate people who ride bikes and make them aware that THEY must yield to pedestrians and not the other way around and have the PPD enforce/educate those about the laws/codes that pertain to cyclists. The PPD seldom enforces traffic laws let alone laws and codes that apply to cyclist.My experience with them is a bit more sneering towards cyclists and the new trend with the bike cops is not to buckle their helmets are we responsible for their medical bills if they are in an accident and have head trauma ?

Dr. Rudolph Masciantonio said...

I'm not sure we want to discourage people from riding bicycles on sidewalks. Sometimes it's the only safe thing to do!
Otherwise I think the questionnaire is good.
Thanks for putting it together!
Rudy Masciantonio

ghettorigged said...

riding bikes on sidewalks appears safe, but it's silly and not a good option. pedestrians cannot move with traffic and therefore should have freedom to move on the sidewalk. bikers need to be educated on how to ride with traffic and drivers need to be educated how to drive with cyclists. it's about communication on the road, not about taking over the sidewalks. if you feel it's too unsafe to ride, walk your bike on the sidewalk.

i think a big issue in philly is the lack of headlights on bikes. i know it seems silly, but it helps for cars to notice us if we can be seen from the front. if they are checking their side mirrors for cars, i feel they have a better chance of noticing us if we have a bright light (as the law requires but doesn't enforce). rear lights are more common, but should also be considered a handy tool and more bikers should use them as well as some form of reflective material in order to aid in visibility. i bike in philly for almost everything i do, all seasons, all times of day/night. it's going to take biker and driver awareness to help it be better than it is.

Anonymous said...

Greetings... Michael Mcgettigan here.
Some mayoral notes:

1) we need red light cameras--disrespect for the law leads to other violence. Would you support a red light camera program, and how would you fund it?

2) As the parent of a 10-year-old boy, I find myself unable to give him instructions on how to safely cross the street--as cars routinely disobey lights, cut corners, rush pedestrians and so on. SEPTA and Philadelphia Police vehicles are among the worst offenders. How would you help make Philadelphia's drivers--especially those who are required to drive--more civil and safe?

3) As cars push into more and more spaces, how will you help Philadelphians reclaim their public spaces for the longterm enjoyment of cyclists and pedestrians, rather than the motorists who are "just zooming through"?

4) In recent years, tragic hit-and-run deaths have killed childrens, nuns, the elderly and more. When the drivers are arrested, they nearly always have a past record of drunk or reckless driving or both. Some have even killed before with a car and gone right back behind the wheel. These tragedies are preventable--how would you help stop them and save other families from heartbreak?

5) Philadelphia Police officers do not appear to consider reckless driving a priority on their duty roster--it's common to see police officers sitting in plain view, idle as motorists burn rubber and run red lights right in front of them. What would you do about this? Do you consider it and important problem?

--that's all for now...

Anonymous said...

I think the bike parking patrol is meant as cops on bikes issuing tickets to wrongly parked cars. Some people here seem to think that bike parking patrol means cops making sure parked bikes are safe.

Second, I LOVE cops on bikes. What I hate is cops on bikes biking on the sidewalk when they should be on the street or bike lane.

What I hate even more is cops in cars parked in the bike lane eating
their sandwich or taking a nap.

My point is that it is wrong for cyclists to bike on the sidewalk and it is wrong for cars to park in the bikelane. Cops should be enforcing the law AND setting an example by obeying it.

Anonymous said...

Cliff wrote: I agree with the proposals, but would add the following:
1. Candidates need to understand the important link between public transportation and access to bike friendly routes to and from transporation centers. In addition, safe bike storage at these centers (particularly the outlying centers in suburban areas surrounding Phila) is a key enabler for people wanting to bike commute from the suburbs.
2. Elected leaders need to understand ways to measure the effectiveness of any bike friendly program; and they need to benchmark the area's progress against other successful areas. Such measures are identifiable through programs such as LAB's bicycle friendly community campaign and other metrics - such as economic impact measures, etc.

Ultimately, leaders need to set performance goals for whatever program the region wants to embark upon.

Anonymous said...

A proposal that needs to be raised is the idea of secure bicycle parking in parking garages, where garages would be required or encouraged to set aside an area that would provide for locked, secure bike parking. A secure area would only take up the space of one or two autos and it could hold up to a hundred bikes. This idea would be especially useful in garages adjacent to hospitals, universities and anywhere in center city.