Research Rest-Stop │Low Stress Bicycling and Sharrows

In a May 2012 report, the Mineta Transportation Institute found that the best method to increase bicycle ridership is through “low-stress routes that appeal to the mainstream traffic-intolerant population.”  The report identifies speed of traffic; number of automobiles, bicycles, and pedestrians; level of connectivity; noise; and aesthetics as influential factors to determine a route’s level of stress.  This means that the best way to appeal to non-bicyclists is through bicycle-only lanes, trails, and cycle tracks.  Unfortunately, sharrows do not create the low-stress environment that new bicyclists need for commuting. 

Sharrows, however, are an important part of the transportation network and benefitPhiladelphiain three significant ways.  First, sharrows identify recommended streets for bicyclists where there are no segregated bicycle lanes.  Second, sharrow markings are on-street reminders for bicyclists and automobiles to respect each other and share the road.  Finally, sharrow lanes help connect the bicycle network inPhiladelphiaby linking together bike lanes. 

Sharrow on Main Street in Manayunk

Sharrows can be seen on 13th street, 15th street, Castor Avenue, Ridge Avenue, and will soon be on parts of 58th street and 10th street.

In Center City, crowds, noise, and speed often increase the stress for commuters.  As the city continues to grow, it is necessary that all modes of transportation are taken into account to create a less stressful commute, one element of which is effectively using bike lanes and sharrows. Philadelphiawill continue to work with automobilists, bicycle enthusiasts, and transit users to build the best environment for all commuters. 

You can read the Mineta Transportation Institute here.



MOTUnes Monday │ Slow Train

Every Monday, the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities (MOTU) showcases a transportation related song. This week, we skip the express and opt for the local “Slow Train”, and listen to poetry of Mr. Bob Dylan.


Philadelphia’s ThinkBike Workshop was a Success!

The ThinkBike Workshop, a partnership between the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities, The Dutch Cycling Embassy, Temple University, and the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia took place on Monday and Tuesday.

The workshop provided an opportunity for Philadelphia residents, city planners, engineers, bicycling enthusiasts, and students to work alongside Dutch cycling experts to propose creative solutions for improving the bicycling network and increasing safety for all travelers in the City. 

More about the event can be found here and here.

Philadelphia Takes the Lead at UN Conference

Next American City highlights Philadelphia at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development.   

Philadelphia has a lead role at the Joint Initiative on Urban Sustainability taking place in Rio de Janeiro this week.  Philadelphia’s Greenworks initiative and Green City, Clean Waters program are both showcased as models for urban sustainability.    

The city’s partnership at the UN conference proves that Philadelphia is fast becoming a recognized forward-thinking global city.    

You can read the entire article here.

Research Rest-Stop │ Vehicle to Vehicle Communications

Every Wednesday, the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities (MOTU) highlights some interesting research related to or innovations in transportation, sustainability, or energy.


Vehicle to Vehicle (V2V) communication may seem like something out of science fiction, but the Department of Transportation is studying this very technology to improve safety for drivers.  The concept is simple – vehicles constantly send and receive location and movement information to each other, which creates a 360 degree awareness of the position of other vehicles and nearby threats or hazards.  The system inside the car process the data, calculates risk, and then issues a warning to the driver or takes pre-emptive action to avoid or mitigate collisions. 

V2V systems are designed to provide drivers with: emergency brake warnings, forward collision warnings, intersection movement assist, blind spot and lane change warnings, do not pass warnings, and control loss warnings.

Recently, drivers in six communities across the country evaluated the V2V technology in test driving clinics.  An overwhelming majority of the drivers agreed that the new V2V technology would improve road safety and wanted to have V2V features in their own cars. 

This new technology has great potential to improve transportation safety in all of Philadelphia. Changing lanes in Center City during rush hour will be much easier when you can see that other car, or that bicyclist in your blind spot.

Interested? Learn more about V2V and its potential at the Department of Transportation’s news blog, or at the Research Overview.

MOTUnes Monday │ I’ve Been Working on the Railroad

Every Monday, the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities (MOTU) showcases a transportation related song. This week, we celebrate rail workers with “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad”, first published as “Levee Song” in Carmina Princetonia in 1894.

We’re Looking for Abandoned Bikes

Are there any abandoned bicycles crowding the sidewalk in your neighborhood?  Now’s your time to do something about it!  The Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities (MOTU) and the Philadelphia Streets Department need your help to identify all of the abandoned bikes in the city in preparation for an Abandoned Bike Clean-Up project.  On July 23rd, the Streets department will be conducting a clean sweep of abandoned bicycles

Removing abandoned bicycles from city streets helps bicyclists by making bicycle parking easier to find and it helps non-bicyclists by clearing-out scarce sidewalk space.  Abandoned bikes are those that have missing or damaged parts, are in un-useable condition, and have been locked in the same location for one month or more.  These bikes will be tagged with notification for removal by the city one week before the scheduled removal.  All of the bicycles that are removed during the sweep will be donated to local charities for refurbishment.

What can you do to help?

Call 311 to report an abandoned bike.  When notifying 311, you’ll need to know the location of the bicycle; what the bike is locked to; and any distinguishing features including color, broken or missing parts, or any unique identifiers. 

Together we can make a big difference to clear the city of abandoned bicycles. 


Research Rest-Stop │Incentivizing Congestion Relief

Worldwide, many cities have established a Congestion Pricing system where drivers are charged a fee to drive into the busiest areas of the city.  This program, although effective at reducing urban congestion, is very unpopular with drivers.  In fact, a congestion pricing proposal (that would charge cars $8) for New York City was turned down in 2008.

A professor of computer science at Stanford University, Dr. Balaji Prabhakr, has advanced a novel method to address urban congestion.  Dr. Prabhakr proposes that commuters be incentivized for traveling during off-peak times – a similar theory to congestion pricing, except that instead of penalizing commuters to drive during peak hours, commuters will be rewarded for driving during off-peak hours. 

Dr. Prabhkr’s most recent project is named Capri for Congestion and Parking Relief Incentives.  This project is based on similar studies and research done by Dr. Prabhkr, including a Singapore study that showed a decrease in congestion by 10%.  Everyday, students, faculty, and staff who have volunteered to join the project will be counted when they enter and exit the parking facilities at Stanford University.  Those who travel before and after rush-hour earn credits, which can be used to win cash prizes.

The effectiveness of using incentives compared to deterrents is still debated among transportation experts.  Some argue that incentives do not alter travel behavior enough and others argue that incentives, unlike congestion pricing, are beneficial because they are not mandatory programs. Dr. Prabhakar notes that both Congestion Pricing and Incentives are not mutually exclusive.  Both systems are tools for comprehensive congestion reduction.

It is unlikely that congestion pricing will be established in Philadelphia.  Could incentivizing off-peak travel benefit the city?  A congestion incentive zone in Center City and University City could certainly benefit all commuters.  Even if only 10% of commuters participated, during rush hour, a 10% reduction on the Schuykill Expressway would make a big difference.

Interested? Want to know more?

Click here for a recent New York Times article discussing congestion incentives.                                                                                                                         

Click here for information on the Capri program.                                              

Click here for other research by Dr. Balaji Prabhakar.

MOTUnes Monday │ I Want to Ride My Bicycle

Every Monday, the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities (MOTU) showcases a transportation related song. This week, we are gearing up for a taste of the outdoors to the tune of Queen’s “I Want to Ride My Bicycle.”

Connect with MOTU

The Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities (MOTU) now has a Facebook Page and a Newsletter! 

Visit MOTU’s Facebook page to find pictures of Philadelphia, connect with other fans of MOTU, comment on the page, and learn out about upcoming MOTU events.

Also, stay informed with MOTU’s Newslettter!   MOTU now sends out a newsletter each week with interesting and informative transportation and utility news highlights from Philadelphia and around the country!

Sign up for the MOTU Newsletter on our website.

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