Sunday, October 30, 2016

Adam and Eve were the first of all unions to defy management.

With midnight Tuesday, October 31st rapidly approaching the probability of the SEPTA bus, trolley, and subway operators going on strike appears even more likely. So what does this mean for you? If you normally rely on any of the above mentioned modes of to travel around Philadelphia you will be out of luck.

So what are your alternatives? Driving? You and every other person in Philadelphia is going to try this. Whether it’s car sharing services like taxis and Uber or personal vehicles the streets are going to become a massive traffic jam during rush hour.

One of the most available options for many people is going to be a bicycle. In 2009 when SEPTA workers went on strike by the second day the number of cyclists had increased by 38%. Since that time bike lanes have expanded and Ride Indego is now a part of Philadelphia. Which means there will be even more cyclists in the event of a strike this time.

If your bike has been sitting for a while the best thing I can suggest is inflate the tires and take it for a test ride. Do your tires deflate after two or three days? Then you the inner tube has been punctured and should be repaired. Do the gears change and stay in gear or do they slip while you are pedaling? Do your brakes stop the bike without the brake levers coming too close to the handlebars. Then you should get a tune up. Which could take a few days as everyone else is going to do the same.

Riding in traffic can be a daunting experience if you are not used to it. Fortunately the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia appears to be taking some proactive actions. Currently they are recruiting volunteers to lead bike trains/buses. Just like a bus or train these are group rides that depart from a specific location and arrive at a final destination. Riding in a group makes things safer for everyone. Stay tuned to the BCGP facebook page for additional details.

If you are planning on cycling in the event of a strike please invest in some lights, whether you buy them at Walmart or your local bike shop. You should invest in rear tail light, more commonly known as a “blinkie”. This type of light makes you more visible to people driving cars who are not used to watching for cyclists. Especially with it getting dark by 5pm.

SEPTA transports 576,000 passengers a day. While no one wants a strike to occur, in the event one does please ride carefully.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Meet the New Boss, Not the same as the Old Boss

Mayor Kenney has taken an interesting step forwards in making Philadelphia city streets more user friendly for pedestrians, cyclists, and cars. He has appointed Philadelphia's first Complete Streets Director, Kelley Yemen. Ms. Yemen comes with a strong pedigree, including a Masters in City and Regional Planning from Rutgers and 9 years of experience. Including four years working in New York City working for the city as a Project Manager and Pedestrian Planner.

As the Complete Streets Director, Ms. Yemen’s job will be to act as traffic director for the city streets and water departments, planning commission, and licensing and inspection to coordinate plans to improve roadways for cars, pedestrians, and bicyclists. With her first stated goal will be to examine how the city can create a improve how the Philadelphia's bike lanes can better connected.

I hope she is up for the challenge, because she has her work cut out for her. First off she has to deal with multiple city agencies all of whom operate like medieval fiefdoms. All too often accountable to no one, even within their own organization.

Then of course there is the problem of the current status of the bike lanes in Philadelphia. All too often they are a patchwork network that seem to start and stop in a random manner. Creating a more uniform network is going to take a lot of work. Work that will be hampered by the deal with the devil made the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia with the Philadelphia City Council.

That deal was when the BCGP in exchange for an ineffective Safe Streets Bill gave Philadelphia City Council final approval over the installation any new bike lane that removes a lane of traffic or parking. No matter what city engineers recommend. Worse yet it does not have to be a council member who is responsible for a that district. Any council member can halt the installation of bike lane. With nothing more than their word, with no requirement for public meetings or input.

Ms. Yemen also has to deal with the aftermath of Andrew Stober, the former spokesman for the Mayors of Transportation and Utilities (MOTU). Who more often than not communicated what the Mayor’s office wanted to do. While doing practically nothing explain and advocate for what the Mayor’s office wanted to do.

I wish her luck and offer my full support to Ms. Yemen. I hope she is able to handle and has the authority to overcome the internal politics that delay and prevent timely problem resolution.