The Bicycle (Riding) Lobby Has Won, and Philly Will Never Be the Same Again

How many there rode bikes? A LOT. | Photo credit: Jim Kenney Twitter feed.

How many in the audience at the 2015 mayoral mobility forum rode bikes to get there? A LOT. | Photo credit: Jim Kenney Twitter feed.

For years now, a lot of the shorthand, sarcastic, political insider criticism of Mayor Michael Nutter has referenced his affinity for bike lanes. As in: “Yeah the poverty rate sucks, but hey, how about those bike lanes!”

Part of that has been driven by a deep-seated conviction (I’d argue it’s a mistaken one) among many elected officials that Nutter cares way more about Center City interests than “neighborhood” ones. But dislike of Nutter doesn’t explain everything. Bike lanes, and really the entire “mobility” agenda—which includes everything from cycling infrastructure, to road paving, to pedestrian accommodations, to traffic enforcement and much more—has long provoked epic eye-rolls whenever raised with the city’s political class. In other words, these concerns have been dismissed by a lot of powerful people as little more than the obsession of entitled Center City millennials, and thus unworthy of City Hall’s attention.

But if Thursday night’s Better Mobility 2015 Mayoral Forum was any indication—and it was—then the political calculus has changed, and City Hall will likely be forced to reckon more seriously with questions of pedestrian and cyclist safety in the future. Read more »

Should Cities Embrace Nighttime Truck Delivery?

photo-cvs-truck-stuck-philadelphia

Not helping the commute.

An immensely success pilot program in New York City is forcing cities to rethink how trucks maneuver their streets. Or more specific, when they’re allowed to. NYC’s Off-Hour Delivery (OHD) initiative has successfully shifted many truck deliveries away from peak hours (6 a.m. to 7 p.m.), the time when 95 percent of deliveries had been made in Manhattan. It’s expected to produce economic savings of $100-200 million a year by reducing traffic congestion, lowering fuel consumption and streamlining supply chains for participating retailers like Whole Foods, CVS and Foot Locker. Read more »

Brace Yourselves: Traffic Circles Are Making a Comeback

Logan Circle. Lovely, but not particularly safe. New-fangled roundabouts are. | Photo from VisitPhilly.com

Logan Circle. Lovely, but not particularly safe. New-fangled roundabouts are. | Photo from VisitPhilly.com

Roundabouts—those circular intersections without traffic signals—are ubiquitous in many states (the most terrifying ones live in New Jersey), but are relatively rare in Pennsylvania. There’s only about two dozen statewide.

But that’s about to change in a big way. According to an interesting report from the Morning Call, Pennsylvania is on the brink of a roundabout boom. At least 40 new traffic circles are planned across the Commonwealth, the Morning Call reports. “They’re going to start becoming predominant,” state Department of Transportation engineer Thomas Walter told the Morning Call. Read more »

Report: Pa. Gas Taxes Highest in the Nation

Shutterstock.com

Shutterstock.com

The good news? Gas is pretty cheap these days — as low as $2.02 a gallon in the Philadelphia area, according to one website.

The not-quite-as-thrilling news? The gas isn’t quite as cheap as it could be: Pennsylvania now has the highest gas taxes in the country.

“Pennsylvania has passed New York and California by earning the dubious distinction of having the highest gasoline taxes in the nation, ” Greg Laskoski writes at GasBuddy.com. “Combined with the federal gas tax of 18.4 cents per gallon, Pennsylvania’s state tax of 50.5 cpg. brings the combined tax to 68.9 cents per gallon.  Californians pay 63.7 cents per gal., New Yorkers pay 63.4 cents per gal., according to the American Petroleum Institute.”

Read more »

The One Big Problem With Bringing Amtrak to City Hall

shutterstock_amtrak-940x540

“Ladies and gentlemen, the next station stop for this train is City Hall station in Philadelphia. Please check your seat and make sure you have all personal belongings with you as you leave the train. Thank you for riding Amtrak.”

At least one Philadelphian would love to hear this announcement. In an essay in the Philadelphia Business Journal yesterday, Bob Previdi, former spokesperson for City Council member Anna Verna, noted that running Amtrak trains through the heart of the city, stopping at a renamed Suburban Station on the way to New York, would offer all sorts of benefits: increased convenience for Amtrak travelers, increased property values for homes and offices now closer to intercity rail service, and even luring New Yorkers to Philly to live, as their commutes and their tax bills would both shrink.

There’s a lot that’s appealing about this idea. 30th Street Station, grand though it is, is across the river from the heart of the city, and Previdi is far from the only person who would love to see restored the city center access that was lost when Broad Street Station was closed in 1952. And he is right to note that this city, like London, has already made a major investment in easy rail access in the form of the Commuter Tunnel.

But in saying that the only thing standing in the way of operating Amtrak service through the Commuter Tunnel is the political will to bring the passenger and freight railroads together to implement the through-tunnel service, he is ignoring one big fact on the ground.

Read more »

9 Golden Rules of Amtrak Etiquette

Shutterstock.com

Shutterstock.com

Darn! I missed National Train Day on May 10th. But in reality I have a lot of train days. That’s because I’ve been using Amtrak frequently over the past few months. And I’m not alone: Amtrak reportedly carries 31.5 million passengers a year and if trends continue, by 2040 ridership could reach 43.5 million. And I’m pretty sure all of those passengers were on the 6:25 Northeast Regional with me last night coming home from New York.

Were you on that train? Well, you snore. And also, please, out of respect for me and all the other 31.5 million fellow passengers, I hope you follow these 10 rules of etiquette.
Read more »

Funding Secured, SEPTA Plans to Rebuild City Hall Station; Part of a Long List of Improvements

Septa regional rail train

In the long, hard slog to secure stable funding for transportation statewide, SEPTA stressed that without it, its system would die a slow, painful death.

So, having now been through that near-death experience, SEPTA’s five-year capital budget proposal wisely avoids talk of new routes or extensions, save for one that was already in the pipeline when the funding crisis hit. Instead, at public open houses Feb. 26, SEPTA presented a five-year capital program that addresses each of the items that would have caused that slow death.

Read more »

« Older Posts