Although it’s not the new year I have decided to announce my New Year’s resolution. Starting in 2018 I will no longer sign petitions, send e-mails to local government officials, or attend meetings regarding bicycle infrastructure. Over the years the cycling community in Philadelphia has been far to acquiescent in how infrastructure and policy is implemented.
In 2009, Philadelphia Mayor Nutter installed bike lanes. Since then I have watched one failure after another when it comes to any maintenance or expansion in the current cycling infrastructure. Even after the death of Emily Fredricks the city managed to botch repainting of parts of Spruce St.
In 2011 The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia gave Philadelphia City Council control over all new bike lanes in exchange for a nebulous Safe Streets bill. Which has led to Councilman Bill Greenlee blocking a bike lane on 22nd St due to “neighborhood concerns”. This Summer Councilman Kenyatta Johnson blocked a bike lane on Lombard St due to “neighborhood concerns”. On August 29, at the ribbon cutting for the protected bike lane on Chestnut St., Councilwoman Janine Blackwell announced that the lane may be removed due to, you guessed it………..”neighborhood concerns”.
It is time to create new solutions that don’t require the involvement of 5th Square and the BCGP with their failed and flawed methods. While 5th Square and the BCGP have made attempts to influence policy through the use of surveys, data, and asking people to send e-mails to local government officials. They have not affected the level of change needed in Philadelphia, let alone even basic maintenance of existing infrastructure.
So what will I support?
I will support rides, rallies, and protests. It’s time to stop asking nicely and time to start demanding. It’s time to make sure that our voices are heard in the public space and not hidden in meetings and backroom deals.
I will support an initiative like the one in London, England. In 2014 the city of London installed a series of bicycle superhighways and there was a serious backlash against them. Instead of trying to educate an uncaring public, a campaign was started to get the support business owners with an emphasis on CEO’s and Presidents. 180 companies signed on to this campaign. The kind of companies and executives who can influence city policy far more effectively than the average person can.
London Cycling Works: How savvy campaigning got 180 employers to support bike lanes from STREETFILMS on Vimeo.
These are my New Year’s resolutions.