Testimony of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia May 7, 2012 Philadelphia City Council

Philadelphia is a walkable and bikeable city
Philadelphia is considered one of the best walking and biking cities in the nation. It has received a Silver Walk Friendly Community designation by the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center and for the past several years, WalkScore ranked Philadelphia as the 5th most walkable city in America. In 2009, the League of American Bicyclists gave Philadelphia a Bronze Bicycle Friendly Community award. The city has more miles of bike lanes than any other city in the country, except for Tuscon. Philadelphia has highest rate of bike commuting per capita of large U.S. cities (over 1M) and ranks 10th among the top largest cities in the county. Its mode share (percentage of commuter who primarily use a bike) is higher than Boston’s, New York City’s and Chicago’s. Councilmatic Districts 1, 2 and 3 have bike mode share rates b/w 3-4%, which is comparable to Seattle, San Francisco and Minneapolis. Central Philadelphia (Girard to Washington Ave, river to river) had a rate of 5.8% and South Philly (Washington Ave to the Navy Yard) had a rate of 6.3%. These percentages are comparable to similarly sized areas of San Francisco neighborhoods.

Planning is completed, now is the time for implementation
Between 2008-2012, the Philadelphia City Planning Commission staff conducted a thorough planning effort to develop a 10 year pedestrian/bicycle plan. That plan was adopted by the Planning Commission in February 2012 and Council was briefed by PCPC in late 2011. The plan calls for cutting bicycle and pedestrian fatalities and injuries by 50% by 2020 (30-35 bicyclists and pedestrians are killed a year, most of them are children, elderly or young adults.) It also calls for increasing bicycle commuting mode share from 1.6 to 6.5% and walk commuting mode share from 8 to 12%. These are laudable goals, but more importantly, they are achievable. Most crashes that kill bicyclists and pedestrians are preventable and there are significant steps that Philadelphia can take to achieve those goals. Biking and walking will continue to grow as gas prices rise. Now, it’s time to get to work.

Philadelphia needs to catch its infrastructure up with the number of cyclists and amount of cycling
30 miles of bike lanes were added during Rendell and 175 miles during the Street Administrations. Five years ago, this accomplishment put Philadelphia on the map as a leader in bicycle infrastructure. But, now, the City is falling behind. Many other cities of smaller population size and area have added many more miles than Philadelphia. Only 13 miles were added during the first Nutter administration; compared to 36 miles by Nashville, 39 by Detroit and 52 by Boston, and 78 by Houston during

approximately the same time period. And while Philadelphia did install 4 major buffered bike lanes during this Administration, other cities have installed physically separated bike lanes (called cycletracks), bike traffic lights and bicycle priority streets.

It’s not just a comparison contest. As I mentioned before, Philadelphia has lots and lots of bicyclists. But, the parts of the city that I mentioned as having some of the highest mode shares in the country, have the least number of miles of bike lanes. When the Spruce and Pine bike lanes were installed in 2009, they doubled the number of bike lanes in Center City from 4 to 8. Some neighborhoods with very high rates of biking have almost no bike lanes. There is a need to create corridors between destinations and to the Center City core so that more people feel safer and more encouraged to use their bike and feet for short trips instead of cars. Although Philadelphia has a good number of bicyclists and bicycle commuters, many more people are interested in bicycling, but are not comfortable using city streets without bike lanes for getting around. As Philadelphia grows its population, it needs to create safe ways to get around other than driving a car. Otherwise, it won’t be a competitive world class city.

Bike lanes are the best bang for the buck
Bike lanes attract bicyclists. The number of bicyclists who used Spruce and Pine after those lanes were installed nearly doubled. The 10th Street and 13th Street bike lanes had increases of 164% and 99% respectively. But, it’s not only buffered bike lanes that attract cyclists. Between 2005-2010, during which time a standard bike lane was installed on 22nd Street from Washington Avenue to Race Street, the number of cyclists rose 288%. Additionally, cyclists on streets with bike lanes exhibit much better behavior. Sidewalk riding on Spruce and Pine dropped by a range of 30-87% west of Broad Street. Our study, Mode Shift, published last

May, found that only 9% of cyclists on streets with bike lanes were riding on the sidewalk, while on streets with no bike lanes, 20% of cyclists rode on sidewalks. Not only do bike lanes work for bicyclists, but they also benefit pedestrians and motorists. Moreover, they are the least expensive form of traffic calming and safety measure available. All they require is paint and engineering plans. They can reduce vehicle speeds, and thus reduce the number and severity of crashes between cars, cars and bikes and cars and walkers. Whether or not you agree that a travel lane on Spruce and Pine should have been converted over from being dedicated to all vehicles over to just bicycles, you can’t argue with the facts that since the buffered bike lanes were installed on those two streets, serious crashes dropped on those streets by 44%, the number of pedestrians hit was cut in half and fender benders dropped by 17%. Bike lanes save lives and reduce the injuries of pedestrians and motorists. If PennDOT could produce those numbers on the I-76, it would be winning national safety awards.

Philadelphia needs more traffic engineers to take advantage of lowcost opportunities to save lives
While the Streets Department has the will and intention to make Philadelphia safer for all road users, its resources are too limited. Philadelphia’s streets are resurfaced every 20 years, even though optimally, streets should be resurfaced every 5-10 years. Out of 292 miles of public city streets in the “Federal Aid Network”, the Streets Department resurfaces 15 miles of streets (5%) a year. Historically, the Streets Depart has resurfaced 70-100 miles of streets per year. This coming year, it can afford only to resurface about 30-35 miles, of the roughly 2,000 mile system; this is because of ADA requirements, which has cut the amount of dollars allocated to paving have been cut by roughly two thirds. Based on these figures, only 2% of the City’s streets will be repaved this year. Resurfacing of a city street is the most cost-effective opportunity to get bike lanes installed. The only additional cost is paying for someone to draw the striping plans and the paint. Therefore, typically, streets get bike lanes when they are resurfaced and that opportunity only comes around once every 20 years. In summary, the Streets Department needs more traffic engineers to produce the striping plans and traffic studies to determine if road diets (dropping travel lanes) or lane diets (narrowing travel lanes) are possible. When the Department operates with diminished capacity to conduct those studies or prepare those plans, it loses low cost opportunities for a generation to save lives and make our streets safer for all users.

Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia recommendations:
• Provide more funding to the Streets Department to hire more traffic engineers. More traffic engineers will accelerate the improvement of Philadelphia’s transportation network by programming the design and construction of pedestrian and bicycle improvements on a regular ongoing basis. Establish the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Task Force to monitor progress on the implementation of physical improvements and policy changes recommended in the Pedestrian/Bike Plan. Prioritize and encourage bike/ped improvements to create safer corridors as we recommend in our Safe Streets, Safe Neighborhoods Initiative.

Safe Streets for Healthy Neighborhoods
Proposed Corridors
Fairmou nt Park to Penn Treaty

z R ef u ge


South Ph i lly Riv e r to R ive





2 Miles

Navy Ya rd to Tem ple

SSHN CorridorsSSHN Corridors SSHN Corridors Existing Bike Lanes Bike Lanes Existing Bike Existing Lanes
Streets Streets Fairmount Parks & Recreation Fairmount ParkFairmount Park System & Recreation Sites

S t ad ium






s to No rt hern

Cobbs C ree k Pa rk to C i t y Hall

Libe rti es


Top 25 Communities for Commuting by Bicycle
The 25 PUMA areas with the largest bike commuter share are found in or around the following locations: 1. Boulder, Co (9.7%) 2. Portland, Or (9.2%) 3. Fort Collins, Co (8.0) 4. Davis-Woodland, Ca (7.4) 5. Berkeley, Ca (6.9%) 6. Cambridge, Ma (6.9) 7. Portland, Or (6.9%) 8. Portland, Or (6.9%) 9. Eugene-Springfield, Or (6.4%) 10. Palo Alto-Stanford, Ca (6.4%) 11. San Francisco, Ca (6.1) 12. Santa Barbara, Ca (6.1%) 13. Gainesville, Fl (6.1%) 14. Santa Cruz, Ca (5.8%) 15. Central Philadelphia, Pa (5.4%) 16. South Philadelphia, Pa (5.2%) 17. San Francisco, Ca (4.8%) 18. Madison, Wi (4.6%) 19. Boise, Id (4.4%) 20. San Mateo County, Ca (4.3%) 21. Minneapolis, Mn (4.2%) 22. Minneapolis, Mn (4.1%) 23. Minneapolis, Mn (4.1%) 24. Albuquerque, NM (4.1%) 25. Seattle, Wa (4.1%)

Albuquerque, NM

Berkeley, Ca San Francisco, Ca

Boise, Id

Boston and Cambridge, Ma

Boulder and Denver, Co

Davis, Ca

Eugene, Or

Fort Collins, Co

Gainesville, Fl

Palo Alto, Santa Cruz, and San Mateo, Ca

Minneapolis, Mn

Philadelphia, Pa

Portland, Or

Madison, Wi

Seattle, Wa


Up to 1%

1% to 2% 2% to 5% 5% to 9.69%

Not Calculated
Source: US Census Bureau, Integrated Public Use Microdata Series. Analysis by the Bicycle Coalition Of Greater Philadelphia