Friday, April 25, 2014

It could be worse

During this weeks salute to #unblockbikelanes we have showcased some of the amusing and questionable aspects of this campaign.  But no matter how bad you think things might be its could be worse, you could be living in São Paulo, Brazil.

Yes, that is a cinderblock wall erected overnight on a bike path for no reason whatsoever. São Paulo Metro claimed that this was merely a renovation to the existing barrier that runs parallel to the path. Click there to see for yourself. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Much Ado About Nothing

The #unblockbikelanes campaign is supposed to help the Philadelphia Parking Authority improve enforcement of cars parked in bike lanes as part of the Safe Streets Bill. On April 14, 2014 those results were released and at first glance they looked impressive.

• Nine complaints on Spruce Street between Broad and 25th resulted in 147 tickets.
• Eleven complaints on Pine Street between Third and 20th resulted in 76 tickets.
• Eight complaints on 13th Street between Filbert and Arch resulted in 11 tickets.
• Three complaints on South Street east of Grays Ferry resulted in one ticket.
• One complaint on the 3700 block of Market Street resulted in nine tickets.

For a grand total of 244 tickets. A very impressive number considering that this program started during the second snowiest winter in Philadelphia on record. 

However WHYY's Newsworks took a closer look at the reality these numbers represented and found a different answer. PPA Deputy Executive Director Corinne O'Connor said “Even with the social media effort, the numbers haven't changed much. She said "the number of tickets issued during the period is pretty typical.” Which to me says that the PPA isn't making any more effort to enforce this policy than they have in the past.

The PPA has committed to improving enforcement of cars parking in bike lanes by implementing the following items listed below.

  • Have a supervisor do a test run of placing a PPA Officer on a "bike lane detail" to cover Spruce & Pine (Front to 22nd Street), 13th and 22nd Streets.
  • Direct more officers to enforcement on Fairmount Avenue.
  • Direct more enforcement during peak hours and assign supervisors to the entire lengths of Spruce and Pine Streets.
  • Direct more enforcement during morning peak hours on 22nd Street, especially at the intersection of Lombard and 22nd Street.
  • Assign more mobile units to 13th Street b/w Filbert and Arch Street between 8am - 2pm.
  • Have supervisors review the religious institutions' "courtesy" blocks with PPA Officers.
Ticketing cars parking in bike lanes was part of the Safe Streets bill that the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia negotiated with the Philadelphia City Council. With the PPA only accountable to themselves, if enforcement does not improve than the BCGP has only has itself to blame for failing to protect all of the cyclists of Philadelphia. 

Click here to see a map of all of the reports of bike lanes blocked by cars.

Monday, April 21, 2014

#unblockbikelanes #3

You just can't make things like this up and yes that is a bike lane they are parked in.

#unblockbikelanes #2

Having just updated the map with reports of vehicles parked in bike lanes. One car owner displayed a wonderful sense of irony. This person parked across the street from local bike shop, Bicycle Therapy.

To view the map of vehicles parked in bike lanes click here.

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.

****As of April 20, 2014, after a single protest this campaign has been suspended.****

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