MOTUnes Monday – Country Roads

Every Monday, the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities (MOTU) showcases a transportation, sustainability, or energy related song.  This week, we’re going to be taken home by John Denver’s “Country Roads”

Best Big City for Biking

The website http://www.walkscore.com, in collaboration with researchers at Simon Fraser University and the University of British Columbia, announced last week that Philadelphia ranks as the ninth most bikeable city United States and the best city for biking with a population more than one million. The rankings are based on four factors: bike lanes; hills; destinations and road connectivity; and bike commuting mode share.

“I am pleased to see Philadelphia recognized as among the nation’s most bikable cities,” said Michael A. Nutter. “The work of the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities to coordinate agencies across City government has led to major strides in making biking a safe and convenient option for traveling around Philadelphia,” Nutter continued.

More than two percent of Philadelphians bike to work according to the 2011 Census Bureau’s American Communities Survey, this is a full percentage point higher than the next American City with a population more than one million; Chicago. The Census Bureau data also ranks Center City Philadelphia and South Philadelphia as among the top twenty five biking neighborhoods in the United States.

In the past five years the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities and Streets Department efforts have significantly expanded bike infrastructure in high demand and key employment areas including Center City, University City and around Temple University. In 2010, the City was awarded a $17.2 million US Department of Transportation TIGER Grant to fill critical gaps in the regions biking and walking trail network. By the end of 2013, nearly five and half miles will be added to the trail network knitting together a more that 50 mile network of cycling and walking trails, with a focus on the ability of the trails to be used for transportation. By the end of 2014, the City expects to complete another five trail projects creating more than ten miles of new trail that leverage the existing network.

“We have been working hard for five years to make Philadelphia easier to get around, however you travel. The latest survey shows that our efforts are working. Perhaps most importantly, our streets and trails have never been safer for cycling, with bike commuting up by 150 percent since the year 2000 and the number of accidents involving cyclists down 50 percent,” said Deputy Mayor for Transportation and Utilities Rina Cutler.

For all the details on the our score visit: Bike Score page for Philadelphia

MOTUnes Monday – Here Comes the Sun

Every Monday, the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities (MOTU) showcases a transportation, sustainability, or energy related song.  This week we’ll give tribute to our most abundant energy source with The Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun.”

Philadelphia is the #1 Large City for Biking

Walkscore, the company that measures the walkability and bikeability of neighborhoods nationwide has just released a list of the Most Bikeable Cities in the country.  Philadelphia is the #1 Large City for biking in the United States.

The Philadelphia Bike Score Heat Map

The Philadelphia Bike Score Heat Map

The Bike Score methodology examines the number and length of bike lanes, the amount of hills, the level of bicycle and road network connectivity, the number of destinations that can be reached by bicycle, and the mode share of bike commuters in each city.

The city has worked hard to make bicycling in Philadelphia a safe and convenient mode of transportation.  Recently, the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities and the Streets Department have installed eight new bike corrals and over 500 new bike parking spaces across the city.  Additionally, there are over 200 miles of bikes lanes in Philadelphia.

IMG_0608

A bike corral near Reading Terminal Market

Even though Philadelphia is ranked first for large cities, there is still room for improvement.  Overall Philadelphia ranks as the 9th best city for biking.  Based on the heat map, Philadelphia scores very well on hills and bike lanes, but not as good for mode share.

Philadelphia is already taking action to become an even better city for bicycling.  Bike share is scheduled for launch in 2014 and the Complete Streets program encourages bicycle commuting.

Philadelphia is #1 for Big Cities, lets make it #1 for all cities.

Want to know more?

The Philly Post article

Philadelphia’s Bike Score 

Raising the Bar: Building political capital to implement key design initiatives

Deputy Mayor Cutler spent an hour talking with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes
, NYC’s Janette Sadik-Khan, (Commissioner New York City Department of Transportation), Gabe Klein (Commissioner, Chicago Department of Transportation
), Ed Reiskin (Director of Transportation, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency
), Tom Tinlin (Commissioner, Boston Transportation Department
 about communicating their agency’s objectives to their constituents and exploring the political dialogue which governs local transportation initiatives. How can agencies build credibility and support without causing sticker shock? What are the key milestones of success and how can agencies work with the press to reinforce their accomplishments? To learn their answers to these questions and more, see below.

MOTUnes Monday – Born to Run

Every Monday, the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities (MOTU) showcases a transportation related song.  This week we’ll speed down the boulevard with Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run.”

Street Furniture

What will street furniture look like in the near future?

New York City is hosting a contest to reimagine the way that payphones work in the urban environment.  Reinvent Payphones, will ask teams of designers, urban planners, and technologists to innovate pay phones in the city in order to reflect the changing communication needs of the people.  Some ideas pitched so far include adding wifi and USB connections.  In addition to adapting the use of pay phones, the contest asks teams to redesign the look of payphones in order to improve their appearance as well as the user experience.

This Bike Rack / Street Bench designed by NY MTA also helps manage stormwater runoff (photo courtesy streetblog.net)

This Bike Rack / Street Bench designed by NY MTA also helps manage stormwater runoff (photo courtesy streetblog.net)

This contest introduces a new shift in the look and function in the design of street furniture.  Pay phones, benches, trash and recycling cans, bike racks, planters, street signs, and lampposts all are important pieces of street furniture that influence the way people interact with the urban landscape and it’s important that they need to meet the changing needs of people living and working in the city.

Section 4.4 of Philadelphia’s Complete Streets Handbook has an entire component to address furnishing, which aims to use street furniture to enhance the urban environment while ensuring comfortable passage for pedestrians.

What type of street furniture do we no longer need? Why type of furniture should we have?  What new needs do today’s residents have that can be met with new types of street furniture? Maybe USB charging outlets and WiFi?  Additionally, we need to consider the cost and maintenance of new street amenities.  How will new street furniture function in the city?

Want to know more?

Check out the Reinvent Payphones Contest

Section 4.4 of the Complete Streets Handbook

Bike Share in Philadelphia: From feasibility study to action

As you may have read in Saturday’s Inky, we are taking steps to bring bike share to Philadelphia.  Bike share systems provide iconic, sturdy bikes at self-service docking stations that allow users to pick up a bike at one station and drop it off at another station. If you have never seen a bike share system before, the video below from Washington DC gives you a good sense of how a system works.

The bike share concept was pioneered (in its current form) in Europe and is now being implemented, designed, and/or studied in many North American cities. In general, bike share consists of strategically distributed stations containing seven to sixty bikes, each with a centralized payment/control kiosk. Customers—who range from one-time users to long term subscribers—“unlock” a bicycle with a credit card or smartcard, then ride to any other station in the city where they can deposit the bike concluding their trip.  Bike share systems in other cities have proven extremely popular for making short trips, connecting to transit, running errands and as part of daily commutes.  With bike share, Philadelphians won’t have to worry about storing a bike or fixing a flat tire and you can take a trip that you might not usually take because it is too far walk, too close for transit or parking a car would be too difficult.

In 2009, a bike share feasibility study  found that Philadelphia had the density and number of short trips to make a bike share system work in Center City, University City and the Temple University area.  At the time there were still unanswered questions about the need for additional bike infrastructure, the financial viability of bike share system and how liability would be handled.  Since 2009, bike share systems Washington DC, Boston, Denver, Minneapolis, Montreal, Toronto, London and many other cities have successfully addressed the financial viability and liability questions.  Here in Philly we’ve significantly expanded our infrastructure with lanes on Spruce Street, Pine Street, 10th Street, 13th Street, Walnut Street, the South Street Bridge and the approaches and exits from the South Street Bridge.  We’ve seen the number of cyclists rise and the number accidents involving cyclists decline.

The City plans to put up $3 million in capital funds over two years to leverage an additional $5 to $6 million in federal, state and private sector funding for capital. The Pennsylvania Environmental Council in cooperation with the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities and Bike Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, and with support from the William Penn Foundation have released a request for proposals for a firm to develop a business plan for bike share in Philadelphia. The business plan will consider capital and operating funding requirements and operating models for the system.

We anticipate that a system will be operating in Philadelphia by 2014.

We want to hear your questions and thoughts about the prospect of bike share in Philadelphia. We will post answers on the blog. You can send questions to aaron.ritz@phila.gov.

MOTUnes Monday | (Are you Ready) Do The Bus Stop

Every Monday, the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities (MOTU) showcases a transportation related song.  This week, we’ll turn to the front and turn to the back, and get ready to ‘Do The Bus Stop’ by The Fatback Band.

Red Light Cameras and Safety

An article posted on New Jersey Real-Time News explores traffic accidents that occur at intersections with red light cameras.  The article looks at a recent report by the New Jersey Department of Transportation that that keeps track of accidents, costs, and citations that take place at intersections with red light cameras.

A New Jersey Red Light Camera(Photo From NJ.com)

A New Jersey Red Light Camera
(Photo From NJ.com)

The newspaper article reports that since the introduction of the cameras, total accidents have increased from 577 to 582. Furthermore, same direction or rear-end collisions at the intersections increased 20%, from 286 rear-end collisions the year prior to the cameras to 343 rear-end collisions the year after the cameras.

However, the article doesn’t mention non-rear-end types of collisions.  The NJ DOT report shows that right angle collisions decreased 19% (from 231 to 188), and other types of collisions decreased 15% (from 60 to 51).  This is important to note, because non-rear-end accidents are more likely to cause injuries.

Secondly, most of the locations with red-light cameras have only been in place for one year or less.  At the two intersections with two years worth of data, there has been a greater decline in crashes of all types when comparing pre-installation conditions to the second year of experience.

A Graph from the NJ DOT Report. The number of citations decrease over time.

A Graph from the NJ DOT Report. The number of citations decrease over time.

Also, red-light camera citations declined after an initial rise – year two violations were lower than year one violations, this indicates that there is a driver education element associated with the cameras.  As drivers become more accustomed to the cameras they learn that a yellow light means caution, not speed up, and the number of collisions will decline even further.

Finally, the total number of accidents at red light camera intersections increased at a lower rate than at intersections without the cameras (0.8% compared to 1.3%).  This suggests that in terms of total accidents, the intersections with cameras are slightly safer.

Since the five-year program is only in its 2nd year, more data needs to be collected before determining the effectiveness of red light cameras and the NJ DOT report posits that it is too early to draw any significant conclusions.  Of course the increase in rear-end collisions need to be addressed in order to make all intersections safer, but there is not enough evidence to recommend ending the red-light camera program early.

Want to know more?

The NJ DOT Report: Report on Red-Light Traffic Control Signal Monitoring Systems

The NJ Real-Time News article: Accident Rate Rises at Intersections with Red-Light Cameras

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