Thursday, March 5, 2015

Sometimes 140 Characters is not Enough

Recently I engaged Philadelphia Inquirer writer Inga Saffron in a discussion on Twitter regarding her concerns over a bill being considered by Philadelphia City Council( One that would consolidate several city departments under a single authority, possibly under the authority of the City Council. Which could create a patchwork effect for future projects.

As you can see from the Twitter exchange Ms. Saffron seems to be under the impression that Mayor Nutter’s administration bears some responsibility for the lack of new bike lanes since 2012. The dialogue reached a point where I felt that a 140 character sound bite was not going to communicate what I had to say.

So let me be blunt, Mayor Nutter’s administration is not responsible for the lack of new bicycle lanes since 2012. That honor is bestowed upon the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia. Who in 2012 thought that giving City Council approval over the installation of future bike lanes that would replace parking or an existing lane of traffic in exchange for the Complete Streets Bill. This was the same deal that the BCGP fought against in 2011.

I don’t know what the BCGP was thinking when they made this deal. The City Council has history of trying to pass punitive bills against cyclists and to think that a City Council member would not use this option was delusional.

This point was driven home Council-Man at Large Bill Greenlee ( who declared that no bike lane would be installed on 22nd St, between Fairmont and Spring Garden. He claimed that the street needed two lanes of traffic, even though the Streets Department stated that two lanes would not fit. He also claimed that local constituents objected. But refused to allow a public hearing. The frightening thing about this is that a Council-Man at Large has no defined district. They are free to take action in district they chose, even though each district has its own councilman.

There are things I do blame the Nutter administration for. Their failure to deal with the police turning the bike lane at 13th & Arch into police parking. Even though there is public garage and a police parking lot available. Or their unwillingness to get religious institutions to stop using the Pine St. bike lane as on street parking. As most of them have arrangements for off street parking.

But at the end of the day the reason there have been no new bike lanes in Philadelphia since 2012 is because of the deal the BCGP made with City Council for the Safe Streets Bill. Not because of a failure on the part of the Nutter Administration.

If Ms. Saffron feels otherwise she can write something more than 140 characters long about how the Nutter Administration is partly or fully responsible for the lack of new bike lanes since 2012.

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