Philly Becomes the Land of the Logos

This space for rent?

This space for rent? Or every space for rent?

When I first moved to Philadelphia six years ago, one of its chief faults (in my view) appeared to be this: It wasn’t New York.

After living and working and starting to raise a kid here, though, I’ve come to a different opinion. One of the best things about Philadelphia? It’s not New York.

There are a lot of things I mean by that, but for our purposes today I mean this: If you’re awake and outside in Manhattan, it’s quite likely that all of your senses are being assaulted by advertising and corporate branding: Neon this, billboard that, handbills over there, posters over here. It’s big, it’s loud, it’s never-ending and sometimes you just need a break.

Yes, there is plenty of advertising in Philadelphia, but — like the city itself — it’s not quite so crammed in on top of itself. There are empty spaces on the sides of buildings! There is, occasionally, room to breathe! This is, on the whole, a pretty good thing.

But maybe that’s starting to change a little bit.

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Bike Share Passes City Council

On Thursday, Philadelphia City Council officially passed legislation authorizing a bike share program in Philadelphia. A Council committee had approved Philly’s bike share program earlier this month.

“I am thrilled with the passage of this bill. Bike sharing is a huge win for Philadelphia on so many levels: health and wellness, tourism and hospitality, the environment and sustainability and so much more,” Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown said in a statement. “There is a huge opportunity for innovation; by studying what has worked in other cities, Philadelphia is uniquely positioned to implement the most comprehensive, effective bike sharing program in the nation.”

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Council Committee Authorizes Bike Share Bill; System to Start With 60 Stations in Spring 2015

Before a crowd of bicycle pin-clad enthusiasts, City Council’s Committee on Transportation and Public Utilities held a public hearing today on a bill authorizing our first ever bike share, which is scheduled to come in spring 2015.

Headed by Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, the purpose of the hearing was to authorize the city to enter into an agreement with Bicycle Transit Systems, a Philly based company, to plan and operate a bicycle sharing program, and with B-cycle to provide bicycles, stations and tech platforms. The system will initially boast 60 stations spanning locations like the Navy Yard and Temple.

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Bike Share Coming to Philadelphia — But Not Until Next Year

The city is poised to announce a bike share program at 2, according to a media advisory released by the city. Mayor Michael Nutter and other city officials will appear at the steps of the Art Museum today to announce the “dream team” — the city’s words, not mine — it has selected to run the bike sharing program. Let’s hope the bike share program goes better than 8-8.

This “dream team” is not the 1992 Olympic basketball team, steamrolling opponents with ease — it needs time to create. The Inquirer’s Amelia Brust reports the bike share program won’t be hitting Philadelphia until spring of next year.

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Three Reasons Bike Share Will Succeed in Philly

I am thrilled that Philadelphia is getting a bike share program. And I am terrified the city is going to screw it up.

Let’s face it: This city doesn’t always have a great track record when it comes to implementing forward-thinking projects that benefit the common good. Remember the citywide wifi project? There’s no particular reason that shouldn’t have worked, except that we’re Philly … and sometimes these things just don’t work out.

Philadelphia institutions aren’t doing the greatest job these days. The schools are a near-disaster, and while City Hall isn’t in the same kind of trouble, agencies like L&I seem to veer between making it impossible to get a business started and letting dangerous demolitions occur with minimal supervision. So you can understand why I feel some trepidation about the ultimate success of a bike share program here.

There are three reasons for optimism, though.
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Mayor Nutter: Bike Share in Philly by Summer 2014

Just got a long press release from Mayor Nutter’s office (see below). Basically, the city’s ready to start a bike-sharing program of the type that’s been so popular in New Yorkexcept among Ayn Randian capitalists—it’ll roll out in summer of 2014, with a cost of $10-$15 million raised from state and federal grants as well as private sponsorships; no local tax dollars will be used.

We say: Hooray! (Although announcing this program right when the schools are starving for money is a little tin-eared, maybe, but still: We should be able to have good transit options and good schools in the city, right? Besides, we like to think this announcement is making Stu Bykofsky turn red somewhere.)

Anyway, here’s the whole, very detailed press release:

Thursday, August 22, 2013 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CITY OF PHILADELPHIA PROVIDES UPDATE ON BIKE SHARING IN PHILADELPHIA

Philadelphia, August 22, 2013 –Mayor Michael A. Nutter and Deputy Mayor for Transportation and Utilities Rina Cutler announced the completion of the Philadelphia Bike Share Strategic Business Plan and the release of a Request for Expressions of Interest to host or sponsor bike share stations.

The Philadelphia Bike Share Strategic Business Plan proposes an operationally viable and self-supporting size and scope for bike sharing in Philadelphia. Bike sharing is quickly becoming an integral part of transportation networks in cities around the country and around the world.  Implementing a top-quality system is imperative as Philadelphia strives to improve its status as a city of choice.

“This past Monday, the Philadelphia Inquirer’s editorial board wrote that bike sharing is just what the city needs and I couldn’t agree more.  This is a rare opportunity where $3 million City capital budget dollars can be leveraged with millions more of state and federal transportation funds and private funds to create a new form of convenient, affordable and healthy public transportation,” said Mayor Nutter.

The program is expected to have a capital cost between $10-15 million, which will be raised from state and federal transportation grants as well as private sponsors.  This system is not anticipated to require any public operating subsidy.

In Philadelphia, the plan calls for a system of 150 to 200 bike sharing stations and 1,500 to 2,000 bikes that will serve an area that stretches from the Delaware River into West Philadelphia, from the Navy Yard through Center City to beyond Temple University’s main campus in North Philadelphia. The system is projected to generate nearly two million trips per year by residents, commuters, students and visitors.

Bike sharing helps connect residents, commuters and visitors to more of Philadelphia’s businesses, institutions and attractions and provides a clear benefit to the hosts of stations as well as the thousands of users expected each day.  Bike sharing will be another incentive to choose Philadelphia as a place to live, to work and enjoy.  It can also provide a healthy and affordable transportation alternative to a diverse group of City residents.

“We’ve seen bike sharing work amazingly well in other cities, but we know that we have to tailor our system to meet the needs of Philadelphians, which is why I’m asking everyone to take some time to think about where they’d like to see bike sharing in their neighborhoods or workplaces,” said Deputy Mayor Cutler, as she urged Philadelphians to go to www.phila.gov/bikeshare and put their preferred bike share locations on the map.

“I’ve been impressed with the seriousness with which the City is approaching launching a bike sharing system. I expect the system will be operationally self-sufficient and leverage a small City investment to have a large impact,” said Robert Victor Comcast’s Senior Vice President of Strategic and Financial Planning.

Businesses and property owners who recognize the advantages of being linked directly to this new system at their locations are urged to respond to the City’s request for letters of interest. These non-binding expressions of interest will serve a valuable function in helping the City plan for implementation and of a world class bike sharing system to Philadelphia. The City is looking for partners at several levels:

  • Station sponsors: Businesses, property owners and institutions who decide to underwrite stations on or near their property will be assured placement when the system rolls out in late summer 2014.
  • Station hosts: Property owners willing to locate bike sharing stations on or near their property will be considered for deployment in the early stages of bike sharing.

Hosts and sponsors will be indemnified from all liability by the system operator who will manage and operate the system.  The City will be releasing an RFP for a firm to perform this service in the early fall.

Many of the major real estate holders in the city have already confirmed their intention to support bike sharing stations.  According to Jerry Sweeney, CEO of Brandywine Property Trust, “Sponsoring and hosting a bike sharing stations at the Cira Centre and our other properties in Philadelphia is an obvious business decision. Property owners who are serious about providing transportation options and quality amenities to their tenants are going to support bike share.”

Bill Hankowsky, CEO of Liberty Property Trust commented, “Bike Sharing is an exciting program that is already creating a new dynamism in some of the world’s greatest cities. Many of our tenants from The Navy Yard to Comcast Center have embraced bike commuting and many more are poised to take advantage of this new transportation option.”

“For our students, faculty and staff, bikes share is sure to become an important transportation option, which is why we expect Penn to be home to several stations,” said Penn Vice President for Business Services Marie Witt.

GlaxoSmithKline enthusiastically supports efforts to bring a world-class bike sharing system to Philadelphia.  “Bike sharing is a natural fit for the city and GSK, as it is completely in line with our goal of building healthy communities everywhere we work and live,” said Michael Fleming, Head, Corporate Engagement.  “An accessible, easy-to-use bike sharing program will greatly enhance transportation choices for residents, students, workers and visitors to our area. These improvements will certainly benefit our employees, and we look forward to working with the City of Philadelphia to finalize the details of a bike sharing station installation that can support the growing, thriving healthy community at The Navy Yard.”

“A community bike sharing could transform not only how people travel in Philadelphia, but also how they exercise and stay well,” said Independence Blue Cross President and CEO, Daniel J. Hilferty. “For example, for people struggling with depression or obesity, taking active transportation — by riding a bike through a bike sharing system — could help tackle these important health challenges.”

“We believe that Bike Sharing in Philadelphia has a unique opportunity to bring an inexpensive and flexible form of transportation to the people that really need that.  More than half of all Philadelphians who live below the poverty line will live within walking distance of a bike share station. The Bicycle Coalition is committed to helping the City reach out into the communities and help make sure that nobody is left out from this great new form of transportation,” said Alex Doty, Executive Director of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia.

Russell Meddin of Bike Share Philadelphia and member of the Bike Share Advisory Group said, “The progress made by the City and the Bike Share Advisory Group has positioned Philadelphia to truly have a chance at creating one of the most innovative bike share programs in the United States. Now is the time for Philadelphia’s businesses and institutions to partner with the City in this 21st century endeavor.”

Information on how to recommend a bike sharing site for your neighborhood, and how to become a station host or sponsor for a bike sharing station can be found at the City of Philadelphia’s website www.phila.gov/bikeshare, which will be the home for all official information on bike sharing in Philadelphia.

The Business Plan was completed by Toole Design and Four Square Integrated Transportation Planning in cooperation with the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission and a business advisory group from the private sector including representatives from Comcast, Glaxo Smith Klein, Independence Blue Cross, Liberty Properties Trust and the University of Pennsylvania.  Funding for this effort was provided by the William Penn Foundation.

 

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