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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Where Would Jesus Park?

In 2009 bike lanes were installed on Spruce and Pine streets to create a safe passage for cyclists to get across town. Prior to this there had been two car lanes and on Sunday's the local churches had an unwritten agreement with the Philadelphia Police and the Philadelphia Park Authority. Allowing their parishioners to park in the travel lane for Sunday services. When the bike lanes were installed this practice continued.

Five years later the number of cyclists in Philadelphia and the use of bike lanes has increased, while this practice continued. That was until Sunday, April 13, 2014 when the founder of Where Would Jesus Park held a peaceful protest on Spruce St. between 17th and 18th at the location of the Tenth Presbyterian Church.

You should read his account (click here for link). He spoke with parishioners and Pastor William Spokes offered to start a dialogue to find a solution. Based on that dialogue the WWJP founder came up with a reasonable solution that matched my own expectations. All of which require a simple change in church operations, that has no impact on people being able to attend Sunday services. Including promoting the use of spaces the church has leased at two nearby parking lots.

I believe that Pastor William Spoke of the Tenth Presbyterian Church and WWJP will be able to come to an equitable solution. That will set a new standard for the rest of the churches along Spruce and Pine streets.

In the meantime the peaceful protest will continue on Sunday, April 20 from 8am to 1pm. Please stop by,  if only for a few minutes to show your support.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Show Me the Money??!!

At the 2014 Philadelphia Flower Show the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia exhibited most of the finalists in the street art competition to create unique bicycle racks. I asked a trusted consultant with 25 years as an artist to visit the display as they were going to attend the flower show.
Out of all of the of the street art bike racks displayed was this one was their personal favorite and mine as well.

The consultant did have some concerns about display. There was no one from the BCGP to act as guide and explain what the competition was or to sign up new members. Just a computer for people to cast their vote for their favorite design. All of the signs were small, hard to read and were not at eye level. Had I not asked my consultant to do this they would have never have sought out this display and felt it failed to dazzle.

As art this project succeeded, but my consultant felt if they saw most of the bike racks on the street you wouldn't know it was a bike rack. Like this one for example:

Their concern was that if bike was locked to it someone else would get mad at them for locking it to piece of art and vandalize the bike. A sentiment echoed by Nicholas Mirra of the BCGP when he stated in this article; “Mirra said the coalition had considered attaching plaques to the pieces informingthe public that they are indeed bike racks.

I have my own concerns if this was truly money well spent. In order to fund this project the BCGP got a $50,000 matching grant. For every dollar the BCGP contributes the grant matches that dollar up to $50,000. The BCGP was able to raise $50,000, so they had $100,000 to use for this project. Which generated a grand total of 10 bike racks, $10,000 per rack. I have to ask, could this have been handled better? My answer is yes.

I would have had the BCGP raise $50,000 in donations to purchase a standard bike rack like this:

 At $159.00 for model UX-238-SF-G , 140 bike racks would be purchased at a cost of $22,260.00 and $2000.00 would be set aside for delivery. Leaving $25,740.00 for administrative and installation costs. Then a street art competition would be announced, open to public participation. Each participant would make a donation to secure a bike rack using a sliding scale for businesses, schools, non-for profits, individuals, and government agencies.

Each bike rack designer would be supplied with instructions to prep the bike rack to be painted, a list of brands of paints that will create a long lasting, weather resistant design, and instructions on how to seal the paint. The only restriction would be no business or sports team logos. Money left over would be held to create a reserve for the following year. And all of this was inspired by the creators of the Cow Parade.

In two or three years this program would start to reduce the ongoing issue of limited bike parking. Which occurred when Philadelphia removed parking meters and replaced them with muni-meters. Causing the amount of available bike parking to dramatically decrease. The BCGP's street art bike rack contest had a lot of sex appeal when it came to donations, but did nothing to increase bike parking. For $100,000 I had expected something more than 10 bike racks.

The Best of Stu Bykofsky

Lets face it Stu Bykofsky is his own worst enemy when it comes to addressing what he percieives to be an epidemic of of outrageous behavior on the part of cyclists. Even in his most recent column about an article in City Paper written by Nicholas Mirra of the Greater Philadelphia Bicycle Coalition of Philadelphia. One that addresses some of the perceptions of Jerk cyclists. How do you take the complaints of anyone seriously who calls cyclist pedalphiles?

So I chose to feature some of my favorite posts I have written about Stu Bykofsky.

All to often people don't think themselves capable of being able to write like a columnist. But in How to write a column like Stu Bykofksy, I broke down the formula Mr. Bykofsky uses to create his bicycle columns. So anyone can write a bicycle column like Stu Bykofsky. 

Then there is Spring has Spring for Stu Bykofsky where I took a silly look into how Stu Bykofsky's mind works when he writes a bicycle column. But more importantly there is a video that asks the question just how dangerous and prevalent is red light running in Philadelphia.

Last up is Professor Stu Bykofsky when he addresses a class at Temple University taught by former Mayor Philadelphia  and crime lord John F. Street, you can only guess what the subject of the lecture was. Even more interesting is the lunch time interview when Street and Bykofsky seem more like Beevis and Butthead

Friday, March 28, 2014

#unblockbikelanes #1

As the number of tweets to #unblockbikelanes grows, from time to time I'll be featuring some of the more egregious examples.

Take this car, for three weeks this car has been parked at 21st & Spring Garden.

If you see this car in the same spot post more Tweets to #unblockbikelanes. Lets see how long it takes to for the PPA to do more than monitor the situation. A picture of the car with a parking ticket(s) would be even better.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Go # yourself

In December the Philadelphia Parking Authority and the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia rolled out a new initiative, #unblockbikelanes. A Twitter hash-tag where people could report vehicles parked in bike lanes. But this is only being used to gather information to determine locations that are problem areas. Enforcement is still a ways off. 

While you can search for the #unblockbikelanes hash-tag, its hard to get a sense of where the problem areas are. So to that end I have created a Google map to track the reported locations. 

There are some criteria that I have used delivery; vehicles like UPS, Fed-Ex and similar delivery services are excluded because they are parked for a very short period of time The same goes for PPA vehicles and emergency vehicles that are doing their job. However police vehicles parked for nothing more than getting coffee should be setting an example for the rest of the public. Parking in bike lanes on Sundays along Spruce and Pine streets is not going to change so just tale the lane and if the cars honk, to bad for them. 

So what do you need to do? Take picture of the vehicle (you don't need the license plate),  Then post the picture and the location to Twitter using the #unblockbikelanes hash tag. With warm weather not that far off lets make sure that from now to September this hast tag is flooded with pictures vehicles parked in bike lanes. It will be harder for the PPA to avoid implementing an enforcement plan by next year. There will be a copy of the map embedded on the Philadelphia Bicycle Journal's Facebook page so you can watch for updates. 
Black Pins = Police car
White pins = commercial or private vehicles
Blue pins = Multiple vehicles in one spot