Saturday, January 18, 2014

BCGP Survey Answers

The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia posted a survey to its website to solicit feedback so they can chart their course towards the future. I chose to post my replies on my blog so a differing viewpoint from the traditional BCGP employee/volunteer/member party line.

A.Why do you support the Bicycle Coalition?
I need to be convinced that I should. All to often the Bicycle Coalition takes credit for work done by others. A recent example is the BGGPs 2013 campaign about family cycling which failed to give credit to Philly Kidical Mass for creating this local movement. Or the lack of public action, after Amtrak rejected the BCGP's e-mail asking about improved bike parking as part of the upgrades to 30th St. Station. A petition does not count, especially one that only garners 184 signatures. There should have been several thousand signatures given the size of their membership.

B. Complete the following sentence: The Bicycle Coalition is the primary organization in our region that:
Advocates for bicycling and bicyclists with a variety of government agencies
Encourages people to try bicycling
Works with neighborhoods and schools to promote safe routes for schoolchildren
Provides bicycling education programs and events
Works with planners to increase and improve bike lanes and other infrastructure
Brings bicyclists together to have a more effective voice in public policy
Promotes safety for bicyclists
Provides youth development programs

As you can see there are a lot of choices to select from. Which makes me ask, has the BCGP taken on so much that their efforts have become diluted? Frankly, I have my concerns. There are times when I have to wonder what the BCGP's priorities are.

Twice a year the BCGP makes a big announcement about the need for volunteers for their bike count, but they never make an equally big announcement of the results Because they never announce them.

Or after all of the time, money, and effort they invested to get the city to develop bike lanes they gave control to all future bike lane development to the Philadelphia City Council. Instead of leaving it in the hands of trained traffic engineers. In return for this deal they got a Complete Street bill which included cars parked in bike lanes getting tickets Seen an cars with tickets recently?

Even small things slip through the cracks. Get hit by a truck while riding your bike, end up in an intensive care unit at the hospital, and the BCGP will tell the world. Want to know if the driver is arrested or charged? That's when they stop being an advocacy group.

C. The Bicycle Coalition recently merged with the Cadence Cycling Foundation, a youth development organization. Cadence uses cycling to engage undeserved youth in Philadelphia. Were you aware of the merger?

D. How do you feel about the merger?
I'm not sure. What does the BCGP envision for its future youth programming? Do they have the staff and budget to do it?

E. Over the next three years, how should we prioritize our work? (check no more than 3)
Expanding bike lanes and trails throughout the region, especially the Circuit
Promoting Philadelphia’s new bike share (public bicycle) program
Public education about road safety
Youth development programs that teach life skills through bicycling
Intermodal transportation – for example, making easier to take bikes on SEPTA
Promoting Women Bike PHL
Engage in more political campaigns that benefit bicycling

After the the Safe Streets bill politicized future bike lane development the BCGP should steer clear of any future political campaigns until they are prepared to stop negotiating away significant gains. Because when they make an agreement it affects every cyclist, not just their members.

The BCGP appears to very good at promoting other organizations and individuals work. Promoting bike share, promoting Women Bike PHL, promoting road safety; While this is all very well and good it leaves the onus for results on the people who develop and run these programs. The BCGP needs stop promoting and start doing.

Developing the expansion and connecting the trail system in the counties surrounding Philadelphia, While it is needed it is going to take decades and tens of millions dollars to move forward. So at the same time I would like to see the BCGP focus on a short term goal, one that would benefit many people in Philadelphia. When Philadelphia replaced parking meters with muni-meters the amount of bicycle parking plummeted. Some of these poles were converted into bike parking. But at a cost of $1500.00 per conversion and given city governments limited funding parking meter conversion became a short term solution.

The Bicycle Coalition should start a public campaign to encourage businesses large and small to install bicycle racks or individual meter conversions. There are plenty of studies already existing that show how bike lanes and bike parking increase sales for businesses. The City of Philadelphia has also done surveys showing the real need for increased bicycle parking. It is time to put this information to use.

If the BCGP wants to show signs of change it can start with posting the results of the survey. To demonstrate that they are open about what the public expects of them in the future. Otherwise this survey is going to be no different from the bike counts statistics that are never revealed. 

1 comment:

  1. I'm sorry you're disappointed in our efforts. This was a helpful reminder that we wanted to publish the results of that survey - it goes up tomorrow.

    You are right in that we need to be careful about spreading our resources too thin. But I humbly think you mischaracterize our work. For one, our Amtrak petition DID result in bike racks, added to both sides of the station. Also, we are very good about recognizing the Kidical Mass folks, and do not take credit for their work.

    Lastly, I know that you were not happy with the Complete Streets bill. But to say that we sold control over over bike lanes to City Council completely ignores the reality of that negotiation. We were able to negotiate that bill away from something much worse to a bill which only codified control City Council already had de facto. And we got a very valuable Complete Streets bill out of it.

    Yes, there are many places where we wish we could work faster and see results more quickly. But to suggest that we are blind to the needs of bicyclists in this city is silly.