Travel Etiquette

We Philadelphians take a perverse pride in our city’s gruff demeanor.  And while such behavior and our subsequent pride in it makes sense when rooting for any one of our sports teams, it makes less sense when it affects how we get around.  All too often we walk across the street in the middle of the block or walk against the signal, distracted by our i-pods and other electronic devices and we indignantly yell at the drivers or bicyclists we surprised when doing so.  When we ride our bikes in Philadelphia we just as often lash out anyone who is upset by our behavior, whether or not we are at fault for riding on the sidewalk or running a red light in the first place.  And let’s not forget that when we drive our cars we are just as likely to make illegal turns and block cross walks.  Thus we believe that it is the bicyclists, or those crazy pedestrians or those speeding drivers who are the enemies, and not our own bad habits.

Our bad transportation habits are really bad communications habits.  Moving down the street, any street be it filled with pedestrians bicycles or cars, requires constant communication between the people around you.  When we walk, bike or drive, we just want to make sure that no one will surprise us, or make any movements we can’t adjust to.  But in the 21st century communicating between travelers is surprisingly dangerous.  Pedestrians are listening to electronic devices, drivers in cars are separated from the traffic around them and bicyclists often block out the rest of the world, concentrating on those things directly in front of them.

Creating a culture of communications between bicyclists, drivers and pedestrians requires a concerted effort both from the public sector AND the public itself.  The City is embarking on an ambitious project to expand our bicycle network, to provide bicyclists a safe system through which to travel.   Bike lane networks help build expectations as to where bicyclists should travel in greater numbers.  But we are also building expectations for HOW bicyclists, drivers and pedestrians should behave through a unique collaboration between the Philadelphia Police and Health departments.

However this can’t all come from the City… drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians need to calm down, look around and pay attention to all Philadelphians, no matter how they move.


Public Wants Well Lit Underpasses And Under Highway Recreation And Dog-Parks

I – 95 is in serious need of repair.  The above article from PlanPhilly highlights Penn DOT’s innovative work to engage the public in this process.  An open and honest conversation about what is possible and what is needed helps the public and PennDOT move forward together.

To Meet Record Demands City Will Pilot 10th St. And 13th St. Bike Lanes Dangerous Drivers, Reckless Cyclists And Thoughtless Walkers Put On Notice

Philadelphia, April 27 – Recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows more Philadelphians than ever before are choosing to commute by bike. The 2005-2009 American Community Survey data shows that in census tracks north and south of Center City about than five percent of commuters chose to make their trip to work by bike. More than 15 percent residents in some South and North Philadelphia census tracks choose to bike to work. An analysis of reported crashes between vehicles and pedestrians and bicyclists has identified Center City has a hot spot for crashes.

Rina Cutler, Deputy Mayor for Transportation and Utilities said, “Looking at the data it’s no surprise that I regularly receive calls for more bike lanes and complaints about reckless cycling and dangerous driving. Today we announce a new bike lane pilot and unprecedented traffic safety enforcement and education. Citizens have a government that is prepared to creatively and seriously respond to a changing Philadelphia.”

Bike Pilot

The pilot program on 10th Street from Spring Garden to Lombard Street and 13th Street from South Street to Spring Garden will replace the current curbside lane with a bike lane. The streets were selected because current traffic counts indicate that both streets can accommodate the conversion, their proximity to Center City employment, a lack of SEPTA bus routes and the ability to leave parking intact. The pilot will be evaluated based on changes in vehicle speed, the length of waits at intersections for cars, vehicle volumes, cyclist volumes, cyclist behavior and feedback from the community and users. Additionally, the City will install a bike lane on Fairmount Avenue from Broad Street to Pennsylvania Avenue and shared-use arrows (sharrows) on streets heavily used by cyclists (see attached map). Sharrows guide cyclists and drivers to appropriate routes and indicate a space commonly shared by cyclists and motorists.

Give Respect – Get Respect

An unprecedented education and enforcement effort kicks off next week that will remind drivers, cyclists and pedestrians about traffic safety. Drivers and cyclists that put others in danger will be issued tickets. The most recent crash data shows that more than 1,800 pedestrians and more than 435 cyclists were struck by vehicles in a single year. Anecdotally, growing numbers of cyclists are increasing the number of conflicts between cyclists and pedestrians. “Everyone has a right to travel through Center City safely. Officers will be a visible presence in this Spring, Summer and Fall. Traffic safety is common sense: distracted driving, sidewalk cycling and pedestrians who are looking at their phones instead of both ways create dangerous situations for everyone,” said Captain Alan Clark, Commanding Officer of the Center City District. The campaign is a partnership between the Philadelphia Police Department, Philadelphia Health Department, the

Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities and the Center’s for Disease Control.

Dr. Donald Schwarz, Deputy Mayor for Health & Opportunity and Health Commissioner noted the public health benefits of adding bike lanes and increasing enforcement, “Healthy neighborhoods include healthy options for getting around. Bike lanes like these make it easier to have an active lifestyle, which can address some of our biggest health challenges including obesity, diabetes, depression and heart disease. The education and enforcement by Police Department will help make sure active lifestyle is safe for everyone.”

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