Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Guerillas in our Midst

Throughout America there are cells of guerillas, plotting to throw off the constraints of government agencies. Working in secret, often anonymously in cities like New York City, Seattle, Portland Oregon, and Jersey City. These tactical urbanists are known as DOTr, Department of Transformation, and they are changing the way roads areperceived.

Operating in anonymous cell, some have funding from a supportive public. DOTr groups create protected bike lanes by placing traffic cones, planters, and toilet plungers on existing bike lanes and creating temporary bike lanes and crosswalks where none exist. The goal, is to push the city to work faster when it comes to improving safety on its streets.

Tactical urbanism does not involve people dressed like a SWAT team. Instead it consists of ordinary citizens who are tired of the slow pace or out right resistance of local government to make the lives of pedestrians and cyclists safer. While many of their installations are quickly removed by local government, all of them have inspired conversation. In some cases it has led to the creation of an officially approved permanent solution.

Now this concept has reached Philadelphia in the form of Safer Streets PHL. A group of urbanists, cyclists, and pedestrians have come together to address the decay and disrepair of Philadelphia's bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. Their first action, on Thursday, August 24, was the creation of a temporary protected bike lane using toilet plungers as barricades. All though it only last a few hours during the morning, it started a conversation. One my favorite comments I found online was how people never realized how many cars drove in the bike lane until they saw broken plungers.

On September 8, Safer Streets PHL swept the protected Chestnut St. Bike Lane free of debris that had been left behind during construction. The type of things that can puncture tires and cause cyclists to lose their balance and crash. In the process they filled 9 trash bags.

I look forward to seeing what the future brings when it comes to Safer Streets PHL. A concept that I thought would never come to Philadelphia.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Caught Between a Rock and a Rock

Randy Lobasso wears two hats in Philadelphia, he is the spokesperson for the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia and citizen journalist for Metro Newspaper. Where he writes columns about bicycling and infrastructure. In his most recent piece, “Philly Needs to Change its Street Safety Approval Process”, he bemoans the growing problem of Philadelphia’s City Council control over bike lanes.

You see in Philadelphia, City Council, not Civil Engineers, have the final authority as to whether or not a bicycle lane is installed. Any City Council member can stop a bicycle lane from being installed for any reason or no reason at all. This is often done by claiming “neighborhood concerns” or cherry picking which replies from community members are valid.

However Mr. Lobasso glosses over the key reason why this has happened with this statement, It's time Council gives up this unneeded privilege it gave itself five years ago and leave street safety to the experts.” Philadelphia’s City Council didn’t wake up one day and engage in coup d'etat to take control of bicycle lane infrastructure, it was given to them by the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia in May 2012. Which I wrote about in “Dancing with the Devil.”

In exchange for an ineffective Safe Streets Bill the BCGP agreed to let Philadelphia City Council pass a bill giving City Council final approval of bicycle lane infrastructure. The same bill that City Council tried to pass in 2011 and was stopped by the BCGP when they marshaled their forces against it.  

So let’s face it everyone, while the Philadelphia City Council is the problem, they will never give up control over bicycle lanes. The root of the problem is the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia. They are the ones that made this deal in the best interests of Philadelphia cyclists. A deal that continues to work against the needs of the Philadelphia cycling community. The only question that remains is when will the BCGP learn that Philadelphia City Council can not be trusted and how many more deals like this will be made before they do.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Not in my Country

Throughout Trump’s political campaign he made every effort to vilify anyone who spoke out against and demonize any ethnic group to turn them into a threat to America and Americans embraced him. While he failed to admit that in doing so he was enabling and drawing the support of radical domestic terrorists, the groups they belong to, and their supporters. Then refusing to repudiate and separate himself from them in any meaningful way.

That has finally come to haunt us, in the form of Nazi rally in Charlottesville, VA. And make no mistake calling the people who organized and participated in the “Unite the Right” Nazi’s is the only thing they can be called. It had all the trappings of of Nazi rally; a torch lit night march, chants of  “blood and soil”, an old Nazi slogan, and “Jews will no replace us”. To do call them alt-right or White nationalists down plays the enormity of what they did.

The “Unite the the Right” rally was planned and organized months in advance and included a speech by Richard Spencer, a pretender to Adolf Hitler’s legacy. As part of promoting the rally organizers and their supporters encouraged participants to bring pepper spray and anything else they needed to defend themselves. This event was considered so morally and ethically repugnant that AirBnB closed the accounts of anyone trying to find someplace to sleep if they were attending the rally, because it violated AirBnb’s anti-discrimination policy.

The rally’s organizer and participants are not the only bad actors involved here. In spite of months of advance planning by the city of Charlottesville, which included 1300 additional police officers and National Guard. Law enforcement failed to keep the Nazi’s separated from the counter protestors. Quite possibly a deliberate choice made on the part of the people in command. The only reports that anyone did anything to stop the mayhem appear to be on the part of New York state militia group who arrived heavily armed and broke up fights. A sad state of affairs when we have to rely on the questionable politics and motives of the militia movement. To say nothing of Trump’s mealy mouthed statement that failed to repudiate the Nazi’s for what they had done.

The permit for the rally was protected by the ACLU when the city of Charlottesville tried to move the event to a different park. As a Jew  and an American. I have never been able to fully support the ACLU since 1978, when the ACLU protected the rights of the American Nazi Party to march through Skokie, IL. At that time Skokie, IL had the largest population of Holocaust survivors outside of Israel. While these repugnant groups have the same protection under the Constitution as all Americans that does not mean I approve of their right to do so.

After WWII, a war in which all Americans united to stop the Nazi’s, the phrase “Never Forget” was heard throughout the Jewish community around the world. During college I went to school with several students whose families immigrated from Ireland and Italy in the 1890’s. In the same way members of my own family immigrated from Eastern Europe and Germany during the 1890’s All seeking to live in a country that allowed people to pursue their dreams and aspirations of a better life for themselves and their children.

During spring break some of these students would take trips to Italy and Ireland and visit family that still lived there and reconnect with their heritage. When I asked one of my grandmothers, whose family had immigrated from Poland, about this subject her response was chilling.  From the 1890’s to 1939 letters were routinely exchanged and there were trips to Poland. She told me that “in 1939 the letters stopped and no one has heard anything from them since.”

What happened in Charlottesville should be considered an early warning sign of what could happen in America if Nazi’s, their enablers, and supporters are not met with “Fire and Fury”. Marches like this should be stopped in their tracks by counter demonstrators with linked arms to create human barricades to prevent these types of marches and rallies from moving forwards. Counter protesters who instead of chanting should respond with deafening silence. If the Nazi’s respond with violence, then they should be met with a level of violence that sends a message to any future rallies that they march at their own risk.

I know there will be trolls, Nazi supporters, and enablers who will label me as a liberal and say that liberals are supposed to tolerate everyone. To that I say, I hate Nazi’s whether they call themselves the alt-right or something less conspicous. I hate anyone who hates someone because their race, religion, country of origin, gender, and sexual identity.

And to anyone who says otherwise I only have one response, THIS WILL NOT HAPPEN IN MY COUNTRY.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

It seems that yet again when it comes to bicycle infrastructure in Philadelphia we have been we have been subjected to the Machiavellian manipulations of yet another duplicitous member of Philadelphia’s City Council. This time it was Councilman Kenyatta Johnson when he wrote a letter against the creation of a protected bicycle lane on Lombard St. That letter will put an end to any attempt at restarting this project, ever.

Keep in mind that the “protected lane” was going to be nothing more than plastic delineator posts and as‏ @bikemamadelphia on Twitter stated; “Flexi-posts are like the press on nails of bike infrastructure”. Easy to install and equally easy for cars to tear them off the road.

So how did we arrive at this situation? Part of this was the process that Councilman Johnson and his office used to make sure they got the results they wanted. First they solicited opinions from the public on this matter and then further narrowed the field by only counting those comments from people within his district. Which resulted in 100 phone calls and e-mails being counted, 80 were against and 20 were in favor of the bike lane. Seems pretty cut and dried, at least on the surface. The problem is that the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia submitted 217 comments they collected; 91 were within Councilman Johnson’s district and 87 of those were in support of a protected bike lane. So now it was 80 against and 107 in favor of the protected bike lane. Not so cut and dried any more.

So how were these additional pro bike lane comments ignored? Simple, according Councilman Johnson’s Communication Director; “The ones reported to me were “direct comments,” explained Johnson’s communications director, Kaitlyn Manasterski. The 80 percent opposed were “among the immediate neighbors who contacted us.” This is the equivalent of overturning the results of an election, by disqualifying absentee ballots because they were mailed in and not submitted in person.

This brings us back to a larger issue, that being the bad deal the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia made with Philadelphia City Council a few years ago. The one where in exchange for a safe streets bill the BCGP agreed to let members of the City Council have the ability to veto any new bike lanes. Without cause or reason. This is not the first time this deal has bit cyclists in the ass and it won’t be the last.

I wish I could say I was completely surprised by how this played out. I saw Councilman Johnson’s multiple appearances at various meetings for the Schuylkill River Trail Watch. He made a lot of promises and did not deliver on any of them.
At the end of the day it is clear to me that Councilman Johnson and his staff had predetermined agenda when it came to the protected bicycle lane on Lombard St.

They rigged the public opinion process to get a result they wanted. The used Councilmanic privilege to ensure that any future attempt to reopen this conversation will never happen. At the end of the day Councilman Johnson has strengthened my opinion that Philadelphia’s City Council is nothing more than a Council of Con Men.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Schuylkill River Trail Safety Alert - July 26, 2017

Safety Alert 7/26/2017

Good afternoon All,
Town Watch Integrated Services (TWIS) wants to alert you to 2 incidents that happened on the Schuylkill river trail.
  1. Occurred on 7/19/17 - on the trail near Race St. a group of teens muscled away a bike from someone:
  2. Occurred on 7/23 - two teens snatched an IPhone and ear buds from a jogger on the trail near 25th St.
We ask for you all to be safe when using the trail and remember report anything that you observe that is suspicious behavior to you. You are all the eyes and ears of the trail.
I would also ask again that you patrol in pairs and let us know when you your using the trail so we can continue to coordinate your activity. Remember if its suspicious report it to 311 and TWIS.
Thank You for your vigilance & cooperation

** If you know of someone who wishes to volunteer as a Town Watch member contact me at nick.schmanek@phila.gov

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

License to Fail

It seems that every so often people insist that cyclists need to be licensed and insured, like car drivers and their vehicles. This sort of thinking is often an emotional response when car drivers feel threatened by a change in or enforcement of existing laws. With 5th Squares recent lawsuit to have the city enforce existing laws regarding parking on the Broad St. median has brought this issue to the attention of the usual collection of kooks.

Usually this consists of small groups of individuals who claim that cyclists are the most dangerous vehicles on the road. Why? Because they said so. Even video evidence that shows car drivers are statistically more likely to do so is dismissed with unsubstantiated claims of how cyclists run red lights and stop signs. So I thought it was time to delve into this matter and see how past attempts to license cyclists has worked.

The lack of bicycle insurance similar to car insurance is easily answered. A bicycle can easily be insured for its replacement cost through a standard renters or homeowners insurance. And let’s face it, just how much damage other than a dent can a bicycle do to a car in a collision.  

There is the economic feasibility of offering bicycle insurance similar to car insurance. Since the cost of replacing a damaged bicycle is far lower than that of a car, it would not be cost effective for insurance companies to create policies. Given the very low premiums they would have to charge. The bottom line is that if insurance companies thought they could profit from this they would have offered this type of insurance for cyclists a long time ago.

So now we are going to explore the reasons why licensing bicycles and their operators has never worked.
There are three reasons why bicycle licensing fails.
1. The challenge of licensing children, since they ride bikes too
2. The difficulty of keeping a database complete and current
3. Licensing in and of itself does not change the behavior of cyclists or motor vehicle operators who are disobeying traffic laws.
Let’s start with number 1;  The of licensing children, given that they ride bikes too. How old does one have to be to have a license? What about people who don’t live in Philadelphia, but do ride their bikes in the city or tourists. Will they be required to get a bicycle license?

Then there is issue number 2; The difficulty in keeping a database complete and current. You are going to have to hire people to create and maintain a rather large database. Combined with the cost of doing so. Computer servers, employees, office space, and the materials needed to create a physical license all cost money and that is going to have to come from somewhere. A number of cities have tried this and failed due to cost and manpower. Seattle, WA is a particular poignant example of how this is not as easy as it sounds.

San Diego, CA: (2012) “The city’s Fire Rescue and Police departments reported the licensing program has drawn virtually no revenue for any city department over the last three years.” (1)
Long Beach, CA: (2011)The cost to administer the bicycle license program greatly exceeded its revenue. (2)
Los Angeles, CA: (2008)“Currently LAPD lacks the resources in staffing and funding to implement and maintain the program in the manner it was designed. A lack of fiscal procedures exist to purchase and distribute licenses to the public, monitor and maintain the citywide database, and an overall lack of personnel to properly implement the program. (3)
San Jose, CA: (2008) An audit revealed that in 2008–2009 the city collected $636 in bike license fees.“ Program was cancelled in 2013 (4)
Seattle, WA: (2008) Seattle has over 500,000 bicycles in the city and found maintenance of the project difficult due to the required cost of record keeping and police manpower required to maintain the program.
Houston, TX: (2008) “About 100 were actually registered. Since people move around so much, even those who registered their bikes had outdated data, and finding the owners if the bike was stolen and recovered was usually impossible.” (5)
Ottawa, Canada: Ottawa estimated that a bicycle registration program would cost $100,000 a year but only bring in $40,000 in revenue. (6)

Number 3, is something we see in the news every week; Licensing in and of itself does not change the behaviour of cyclists who are disobeying traffic laws. How many times do we read about or see on TV hit and runs where the driver is never caught? Or even when they are caught it does nothing to reduce the chances of it happening again.

At the end of the day I do not need a license for a police officer to write me a ticket as a cyclist. Any more than pedestrians need a walking license to be ticketed for jaywalking. If cyclists truly are the law breakers that some would believe, riding through the streets of Philadelphia with reckless abandon. Then the most effective solution is actual enforcement on the part of the police. Until that happens in a manner that involves equal enforcement and education of all vehicle operators then it will be business as usual in Philadelphia.

Monday, July 17, 2017

An interview with Alexandria Schneider; Queen of Philly's Mass Rides

On September 26 & 27, 2015 Pope Francis came to Philadelphia as part of the World Meeting of Families, which included an outdoor mass on September 27. In order to facilitate an estimated 1 million pedestrians ability to move freely, a 4.7 square mile area of Philadelphia was closed to motor vehicles. It was announced months in advance so everyone could prepare.

About two months before that weekend an event appeared on Facebook, the PopeRide on Saturday, September 26.  The PopeRide was going to follow a route through the the closed section of Philadelphia to celebrate car free streets. Organized by Alexandria Schneider, she thought that this ride was going to be her and a few dozen friends.

On the day of the ride 1500 people had signed up on Facebook and the belief was a third to half would show up. However on Saturday morning more and more people started showing up, far more than anticipated. The final count was 3000 participants. Since then, not a summer has gone by where Ms. Schneider has not held a large scale ride through the streets of Philadelphia. This year is no different.

Ms Schneider took a few moments out of her schedule to give an interview for the Philadelphia Bicycle Journal.

Prior to the PopeRide had you ever done anything like this before?
Nope!  I'd biked with friends, but that was it.  

What was your reaction at the PopeRide when you found out 3000 people showed up?
Honestly, I was exhausted from the ride the night before, but when I got the call saying that 3000 people were at the start line, I went straight to a MASSIVE adrenaline high and didn't come down until about 8PM that night!  

What was your inspiration for this ride (Cycle en Couleur)?
For this ride?  Maria and I had been talking about good-naturedly teasing Diner en Blanc for a while, but I was stuck on single-color rides.  Roulante en Rouge came and went, Bike in Blue was a flop, but then Maria brought up Cycle en Colour, and it stuck!  

How much time does it take to put together a ride like this?
It depends on a few factors, but generally a week or so to kick around and firm up the ride concept with co-organizers, maybe an hour or two to draw up the route, and then a few hours a week in the lead-up weeks for prep, like pulling materials together, and promoting.

What are some of the key things you have to plan for when creating large scale rides?
The biggest thing is "location, location, location".  You need to find a starting location that's big enough for a potentially huge group, make a route that's fun and has nice views but has enough safe street space for a bike mass, and find an ending location that gives people space to stay if they want to, but can leave easily.  

When you're not planning a ride what else do you do?
My day job is in IT, and when I'm not doing that or riding, I love baking, shooting sports, cooking, gaming, and listening to music.  

Every time you hold a ride you have perfect weather and a massive turn out. What is your secret? Do you make an offering to Taranis, God of the wheel and if you do, what is it? (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taranis)
Well, I've had one ride that didn't have those, Byko's Safe Bike Ride, but that wasn't supposed to be massive.  But either way, I legitimately have no clue.  I DO obsessively refresh Weather Underground and yell at the sky beforehand though.  I also don't say the word for that thing that falls from the sky during a storm before a ride.  For theatre folks, I treat it like you treat the name of The Scottish Play :P

Cycle en Couleur - Thursday, August 17, 2017

Didn’t win the lottery for Diner en Blanc?

Don’t feel like buying white clothes just for a meal, but want an excuse to get dressed up?

Don’t have a spare table and chairs to eat outdoors, but still want to enjoy a picnic with friends?

Then get ready for Cycle en Couleur.

A summer in Philadelphia would not be complete without the Queen of the mass rides, Alexandra Schneider, and her partner in social enhancement, Maria Serrahima (organizer of the Philly Naked Bike Ride) are holding another summer ride to remember. This summer it will be Cycle en Couleur. A celebration of Philadelphia’s spirit of openness and showcasing the city at dusk, highlighting community and inclusiveness with style.  

Styled after Diner en Blanc, but without the exclusivity and fussiness that comes with it. Cycle en Couleur (CeC) is envisioned as a 'spring fling' in late summer and encourages all kinds of colorful clothing. Attendees should feel free to wear whatever color they like and if the spirit moves them, to dress up.That purple suit? The banana-yellow dress? The powder-blue tux (with obligatory ruffles)? The red blouse with green tights? That outfit that you bought once, and haven’t worn again? Now you have a reason to wear them.

Departing the steps of the Art Museum on Thursday, August 17, 2017 at 7pm, Cycle en Couleur will wind its way through Philadelphia. In the spirit of the evening, the ending location is being kept a secret. Bikes, skates, skate boards, scooters, sneakers, all are welcome. If it's human-powered and you can keep up, you're welcome! Just like the PopeRide and RideDNC this will be a leisurely paced ride. Music will be provided courtesy of bike-towed speakers, and flashing lights, glow sticks, and decorations are officially encouraged!  

I have been fortunate enough to ride in the 2015 PopeRide which had 3000 cyclists and the 2016 RideDNC with 1500 cyclists. For those of you who have never done either of these rides this one not to be missed. For those of you have, bring your friends. This is the type of ride you will be telling your friends and family about long after summer has passed.

If you need more information or would like to share fashion tips on how to dress for the Cycle en Couleur, go to the event’s Facebook page,  https://www.facebook.com/events/308180306298196

Monday, June 19, 2017

Philadelphia's shiny new...death trap.

In October 2016 I had high hopes when Kelley Yemen was hired by the City of Philadelphia as the cities first Complete Streets Director. As the head of  oTIS, City of Philadelphia Office of Transportation & Infrastructure Systems. With a Masters in City and Regional Planning from Rutgers University and 9 years of experience. Including four years working for New York City as a Project Manager and Pedestrian Planner. Ms. Yemen sounded like the person who would get all of Philadelphia’s agencies responsible for bike, pedestrian and car infrastructure to work together.

Much to my chagrin, even something as simple as a bicycle lane may be a bad sign of things to come. On June 16 oTIS, triumphantly tweeted Philadelphia’s newest bike lane on Spring Garden between 33rd and 38th St.

death trap tweet.JPG

So what’s wrong with the picture above? EVERYTHING. What was installed is nothing more than a death trap for cyclists. Cyclists can get doored no matter which direction they ride in. Those riding with traffic can be clipped by cars driving to close. Cyclists riding against traffic will be forced into traffic when anyone double parks in the lane and are at greater risk of getting hit by cars pulling in and out for parking.

So how should this look? Exactly like this. 

 The most effective design for a contraflow, a bike lane where cyclists ride against traffic. Is to place the bicycle lane between the curb and the parked cars with the passenger side doors of the cars opening into the bike lane.  The parked cars act as a barrier to protect cyclists from traffic and reduce the risk of dooring by the driver.

How a something like this even made it past the design phase, let alone got approved and installed speaks to the screaming lack of oversight on the part oTIS and its approval process.  This bike lane is nothing more than a death trap and a lawsuit waiting to happen.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Bike the Broad Street Run!

Last summer the Queen of Philadelphia’s large scale group rides, Alexandria Schneider, organized a ride down Broad St. Attracting over 1000 cyclists who rode in a non-partisan bike ride who ride to the Wells Fargo Center. In my write up of the ride I stated; “I don't know when Alexandria Schneider's next ride or what the theme will be. But I can't wait.” Well, the wait is over.

On Sunday, May 7 at 7am Ms. Schneider will be leading a ride down Broad St. prior to the start of the Broad St. Run. For those of you who can’t make it to the start just wait at City Hall and around 7:20am the ride will sweep through. All you have to do is join in. (https://www.facebook.com/events/260390147735939/)

I know there will be people who will say that the course of of the Broad St. Run is not for cyclists. However cyclists pre-riding a race route is not as unusual as you think it is. Since 2009 there has been a midnight ride prior to the start of the Boston Marathon. Complete with the local transit authority providing a special train to get cyclists and their bikes to the start and post ride pancake breakfast. And Boston is not alone. Similar pre-marathon rides are also held in Charleston, SC, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, and New York City.

So what you can do to prepare for this ride?

  1. Go to bed early. - If you are going to be at City Hall at 7am, staying out and partying should not be your first choice. Remember you have to get up and ride to City Hall.
  2. Make sure your bike is in good working order. - Is your bike squeaking when you ride it? Do you have problems shifting gears or using your brakes? Get your bike tuned up as soon as possible, you won’t want to miss this ride.
  3. Bring a spare inner tube. - No one plans to get a flat tire. Having a spare inner tube will mean if you get a flat someone with tools can change it for you. Or you can help out a fellow cyclist in need.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Friday Video - Project « Ghostrider »

Project « Ghostrider » is a group of single speed/fixed gear cyclists who ride the streets of Paris France at night in Kabuki style makeup. In this video they collaborated with the musical group Gesaffelstien. Each cyclist has an up light on the handlebars of their bike to enhance their look.

Monday, January 30, 2017

A Tale of Two Cities

Two cities, two bike lanes, one is successful, the other isn't. Why?

Witness now a tale of two cities. One the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia. The other, Portland Oregon, is the City of Roses. Each city has a growing bicycling infrastructure and activists who are involved in it. And yet when confronted with the same challenge they each had a different approach.

Each city has a bike lane covered in layer of debris. The kind of stuff that punctures tires and makes it difficult to ride. In Portland a group of citizen activists who are part of PDX Transformation put on safety vests and grabbed some brooms and cleaned the bike lane.

But in Philadelphia it was a different story. A city blessed with paid, professional activists, The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia. Who leaped into immediate action by Tweeting for someone to take a picture for them. Instead of having an employee or intern go check it out themselves.

Instead of organizing a work party to clear the lane of debris. I have no doubt that the BCGP will make a few phone calls and send a few e-mails to various city agencies asking for them to clean the lane. Which will be ignored or subject to empty promises.

Philadelphia cyclists are at the mercy of professional activists who have become so wrapped up in nebulous long term goals. That they have forgotten how to get their hands dirty over more immediate needs.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Cycling year in review - 2016

With 2016 over and one with its time to look back at some the happenings that occurred in the Philadelphia cycle scene.

Byko’s Safe Bike Ride  
It finally happened, after years of Stu Bykofsky yammering on about all cyclists breaking the law and how useless cycling was as a form of transportation. Stu went for a real bike ride, Byko’s Safe Bike Ride, a charity fundraiser where everyone would obey the traffic laws.
While this was not the ride to change Stu Bykofsky, it was very fun participating in the first and last time Stu will ever engage the public. My favorite moment was on April 8th, 2016 (https://www.facebook.com/events/1698123177126174) post on the ride's Facebook page. When Stu implied that because the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia did not have any data to support his claim that all cyclists run red lights and stop signs. That the BCGP was trying to hide something. When asked why he could not perform his own survey and post the results his response was a classic case of denial, no one would accept the results.
One bad thing did come out of this ride. The BCGP made a deal with Stu and as usual the BCGP is on the losing side of the bargain. He would stop using the phrase pedalphille and the BCGP would stop calling him anti-bike. While I never like his use of the word pedalphile, it did make him look like a petulant child. Stu still remains anti-bike, you name it he’s against it and it's only  matter of time before Stu comes with new word to insult cyclists with.
After the ride was over and the weeks became months something changed about Stu Bykofsky wrote about. Normal Stu has has several got to subjects which you can expect multiple columns on, to the point of ad nauseum. Bicycles, sidewalk cafe seating, and the Mummers. Much to my surprise he has avoided writing any columns on these subjects, especially during the SEPTA strike. When I expected a rant to end all rants about cyclists. Instead nothing, not a murmur, a whisper, or a lie on Stu’s part.
I don’t know what 2017 will bring with Stu Bykofsky and columns. I remain skeptical that he can stay clear of his go to columns about bicycles, sidewalk cafe seating, and the Mummers for very long.

Ride of Silence
I have avoided the annual Ride of Silence in Philadelphia for years. It always looks like a bunch of MAMIL’s are out for a training ride. Rather than a low pace ride to draw attention to cyclists who have been hit and killed by people driving cars. The pace of the ride excludes slower riders and families with children. Combined with the police escort with flashing lights and blaring sirens that detracts and distracts from what the ride is about. As this ride has always been organized by the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia I just assumed it was another example of the BCGP being out of touch with the cycling community of Philadelphia.
It turns out that this ride has been organized by a group of volunteers under the auspices of the BCGP, with only one slight problem. The BCGP has never provided any oversight for this event, effectively leaving these volunteers free to do whatever they want. Whether it reflects the intent of the ride or the message the BCGP wants to promote.
This is yet another example of the level of disconnect the BCGP has not only within its own organization. But also with the cycling community of Philadelphia that is evolving to include the voices advocates from Philly Kidical Mass. Who want to include their children and families into the Philly cycling scene.

Man blocks Bus
In May a cyclist was overtaken and passed by a SEPTA bus so close it almost hit him. This is not an uncommon occurrence in Philadelphia, this time however the cyclist took matters into his own hands by blocking the bus with his bicycle until the police arrived. The most frequent comments were along the lines of; he can’t block a bus like that, what if someone is going to the hospital or a job interview or he should have filed a complaint with SEPTA. There were problems with these theories, no one was being prevented from getting off the bus. As for SEPTA investigating, there is no way SEPTA would ever admit error, to do anything less would make them liable in a lawsuit. To say nothing about how 30 days earlier a cyclist was killed by a SEPTA bus driver when he “swerved” in front of the bus.
There was some very questionable behavior on the part of the driver. Despite the hour long delay and the police showing up, SEPTA had no idea that the bus was out of service. Until someone posted what happened on social media. Why didn’t the bus driver notify his dispatcher?

Ride DNC
Alexandria Schneider, organizer of the PopeRide, was back again with another huge ride. This time its was to celebrate the electoral process. Starting at the top of Broad St. and riding down to the Wells Fargo Center. With 200 people departing from the start for a ten mile ride, they were joined at the midpoint, City Hall, by another 1000 people. I’m not sure what opportunities will occur in 2017, but I look forward to the next large scale ride Ms. Schneider will plan.

Open Streets
In 2015 the shutdown of Center City for the Papal visit and the PopeRide proved to be the motivation for the city of Philadelphia to try its first Open Streets event. Where several miles of streets are closed to everything except pedestrians and human powered vehicles. The event was highly successful.
I did take issue to the way it was promoted, as 10 miles of car free streets. In reality it was three miles of car free streets. The other seven miles were the Schuylkill River Trail and Martin Luther King Blvd, both of which are closed to automotive during the day of Open Streets.
While I hope that this event is a sign of things to come. With multiple Open Streets events throughout the year in different locations. I remain skeptical that this will be anything more than a non-event. With very few miles actual car free streets, let alone a major street.

Mayor Kenney
Of course Philadelphia Mayor Kenney had some involvement this year in cycling and infrastructure development.
First up was the ban on parking cars in the median of South Broad St. With the Democratic National Convention in town and Broad St being designated as an official route for any marches or protests. In order to facilitate this all cars had to be removed from the median on South Broad St. This worked out so well that a petition circulated asking the Mayor to make this a permanent solution.
The problem is parking the South Broad St median is something of Catch 22. Parking on the South Broad St. median has always been against the law, but never enforced. It has become a Philly tradition that ranks right up there with throwing snowballs at Santa Klaus and drunk Mummers parading on New Year's Eve. Blocking the median has always been a safety hazard for traffic and people attempting to park their cars on the median.
Mayor Kenney had the perfect opportunity to make this a permanent solution until a small percentage of the Negadelphians decided that this tradition should be preserved. To the detriment of the community. At which point Mayor Kenney stated that this should be resolved at the local level, leaving the issue permanently unresolved. Its seems that when Mayor Kenney took on Big Soda which spent 3 million dollars to prevent the Soda Tax he was a man of great strength. But a couple of South Philly Negadelphian’s and he runs and hides like a frightened child.

Mayor Kenney was very slow on the uptake was his use of Twitter. Something that was readily apparent during the early days of the 2016 SEPTA strike occurred.

         Rather than have any level of sympathy for the hundreds of thousands of Philly residents and suburban commuters that the strike impacted. He instead chose to use what passes for humor in South Philly. Mayor Kenney has since learned the need for restraint and listening when he stated in an interview; “He said he’s had to learn to control his temper, listen without reacting, and stop tweeting, unless it’s positive. “Sometimes it’s time to grow up, it’s time to realize that your job is really important, that your own personal likes and dislikes are not germane to moving the city forward,” he said.”
My hope is not only will Mayor Kenney listen, but he will also act on what will benefit most Philadelphians. Instead of allowing their voices to be drowned out by a loud minority who want to hold Philadelphia and its residents back.
Of course 2016 wasn’t finished without a complete surprise. The 5th St. tunnel bike lane got delineator/flex posts and was proclaimed Philadelphia’s premiere protected bike lane.  That was until a few weeks ago when the DPRA (Delaware River Port Authority) removed them because winter is here and they need to plow the tunnel. Because in Philadelphia we get so little snow to begin with. But don’t worry the DPRA will put them back in April. Once again demonstrating that Philadelphia’s commitment to Vision Zero is optional and seasonal.