Sunday, November 16, 2008

An Open Letter to Councilman Green

Dear Councilman Green

I would like to correct an error that you have been making in your public statements this past week and on NBC 10's At Issue on Sunday.

You have been making statements disparaging the City’s "Bike Czar," which is a fictional position in City Government. The position that I believe you are referring to is a Pedestrian and Bicycle Coordinator, which is one of five paid positions in the Department of Transportation and Utilities and is the only paid employee in City Government responsible for reducing bicycle and pedestrian injuries and deaths.

You have also stated that people would prefer libraries over a "Bike Czar". You may already aware that 46 people died in fires in Philadelphia in 2007, but did you know that 39 pedestrians and bicyclists also paid the ultimate price in that same time period? Did you know that bicycle and pedestrian traffic deaths account for one-third of the city’s traffic fatalities?

Children and the elderly have to cross dangerous roads to get to Philadelphia’s libraries. For example, many have to cross Roosevelt Blvd and Cottman Avenue to get to the Northeast Regional Branch, and Broad and Erie to get to the Nicetown Branch. Both intersections are among the top 5 in the entire state with the highest pedestrian crashes. Based on this information, I hope you will rethink your position and start supporting the Bicycle/Pedestrian position as one that will improve public health and increase safety; one that is worthy of serving all Philadelphians.

John Boyle
BCGP Advocacy Director


Andrew J. Besold said...


These are my personal comments I added to the petition letter put together by Next Great City. I hope it helps.


I visit Philadelphia several times a month, often with a bicycle. I've absolutely fallen in love Philadelphia because it is such a wonderful city to walk and bike around. Being able to get around so easily using either mode makes it rather easy to stop anywhere one might like to and spend money since there is never a need to find and pay for parking.

However as someone who is soon to be a bicycle and pedestrian planning professional myself, I can assure you that Philadelphia has a long way to go until it is perfect for people to safely walk and bike. Polls often find that the most loved, successful and livable cities anywhere in the world are those that have made major strides in turning their respective cities into havens for those who get around by foot and bicycle (as well as transit).

Philadelphia is blessed with fantastic "bones" inherited from William Penn and enhance by many great planners since. There is no reason why Philadelphia cannot be one of the world's premier, smaller cities like Munich, Barcelona, Sydney or San Francisco; all of which, by the way, are wonder places to walk and bike. Fortunately, enhancing walking and biking is also the least expensive and most cost effective thing a city can do to improve quality of life, public health and enhance the transportation system all at the same time and with the same dollar.

Cutting the Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator at this time where he has the potential to make real, cost effective change would be foolhardy at best.