When you have a problem with something in the city, say a pothole in front of your house or a late trolley in the morning, calling the issue in is certainly a viable option. But sometimes Twitter and its inherent publicity can bring along a faster result. In Philly, there are plenty of accounts you should be following if you’re the type who wants to get stuff done.
Have more to add? Tweet us at @billy_penn. And for what it’s worth, you can find tons of neighborhood-specific accounts to follow on this list. But these are our 11 Philly picks:
1. @bcgp (Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia)
Been tweeting since: March 2009
No. of followers: 7,023
No. of tweets: 9,430
Why it made this list: These people get stuff done. Whether it’s lobbying for more bike lanes in the city or publicizing injustices faced by cyclists on the reg, the Bicycle Coalition are the people to go to when you have any — ANY — questions related to biking in the city. They’ve also got a plethora of information, laws and maps available here.
One of our favorite tweets: It’s really the little things.
— Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia (@bcgp) April 21, 2015
Been tweeting since: March 2008
No. of followers: 97.4K
No. of tweets: 287K
Why it made this list: OK look, just hear me out before you crucify me for putting something Comcast-customer-service related on this list. Earlier this year, the media giant decided to — among other moves to make their customer service experience less hellish — add humans to man their social media presence and respond to complaints and concerns in real time. Since then, the account has racked up nearly 300,000 tweets, many of which are working directly with customers who have concerns about their Wifi, their service or their cable guy showing up late. Just a scroll through their replies will show you that, yes, maybe people still have problems with Comcast service. But there are people responding quickly.
One of our favorite tweets: Ray is the MVP.
Been tweeting since: March 2009
No. of followers: 5,844
No. of tweets: 5,812
Why he made this list: Some members of City Council are digitally savvy. Others, not so much. But we have to hand it to South Philly councilman Kenyatta Johnson, who’s not only consistently tweeting, but actually responds to constituents who have concerns about life in his district, like this person who wanted access to a grass field for his child to play soccer on, or this woman who has concerns about gentrification in Point Breeze.
One of our favorite tweets: Dog lover!
Doggie Ball today ! pic.twitter.com/4VDzGMLyZv
— Kenyatta Johnson (@CouncilmemberKJ) June 7, 2014
Been tweeting since: August 2008
No. of followers: 25.7K
No. of tweets: 25.1K
Why she made this list: Desiree Peterkin Bell, the Mayor’s right hand in many ways, knows the ins and outs of city government and just how this place works. She’s great at handling communications for the administration and makes her way around the city, often documenting it on Twitter. Want to get something done in the city? Hit up @DPBell.
One of our favorite tweets: Selected solely for the terrifying mascots hanging out in City Hall.
— DPBell – Desiree Peterkin Bell (@DPBell) April 25, 2013
Been tweeting since: February 2010
No. of followers: 10.7K
No. of tweets: 12.5K
Why it made this list: Traffic signals not working at an intersection near your neighborhood? Check. Confused as to why your trash hasn’t yet been picked up? Check. Don’t know who to tell when something’s wrong? Check.
One of our favorite tweets: Meet Curby, the weird purple trashcan.
— philastreets (@PhilaStreets) September 25, 2015
Been tweeting since: March 2009
No. of followers: 17K
No. of tweets: 38.8K
Why it made this list: This agency that works closely with the Streets Department can field complaints or concerns about your neighborhood and either A. Open a ticket (meaning it will be addressed) or B. Tell you the best place where you can find help regarding your problem. Not everything is fixed immediately, and there are of course some caveats when you’re dealing with a city of 1.5 million. But this account fields and responds to many of the tweets that come its way.
One of our favorite tweets: At least they know awareness cone is a thing…
— Philly311 (@philly311) May 28, 2015
Been tweeting since: May 2013
No. of followers: 1,762
No. of tweets: 1,117
Why he made this list: This Philadelphia Police sergeant is actually pretty clever on Twitter and is a good follow, but bonus points for being honest with residents and fielding concerns from people who just want to let a cop know that something’s up. He has, on several occasions, disseminated information to the public through Twitter and has taken helped direct people to the right district they need to file complaints with.
One of our favorite tweets: OK so this isn’t from him, but it’s about him. We’re glad he’s sharing his gift.
— Corgi (@BobbyCorgi123) July 30, 2015
Been tweeting since: November 2009
No. of followers: 5,891
No. of tweets: 13.6K
Why he made this list: We would be remiss to create a list like this and not include Joe Murray. This Philadelphia police detective was the guy at the center of things when social media users spent time IDing suspects in the Center City gay bashing last year, but long before that he was seen in the city as the O.G. Tweeting Cop. He has, on many times, disseminated his cell phone number on Twitter so people can call him and ask questions about the city and public safety. Earlier this year, Murray won an innovation award from the city for how he used the platform to alert people to crime and field information about suspects. He’s also pretty hilarious.
One of our favorite tweets: This tweet was sent out after Twitter users helped pull together evidence in the Center City gay-bashing incident:
This is how Twitter is supposed to work for cops. I will take a couple thousand Twitter detectives over any one real detective any day.
— Joseph Murray (@PPDJoeMurray) September 17, 2014
No. of followers: 2,710
No. of tweets: 3,888
Why it made this list: Having a problem with your Indego bike? Want to know where to find up-to-date information on bikes that are available? Have ideas for making the city’s ride-sharing service better? Send your questions and comments over to @RideIndego, which has a stellar social media presence and responds lightning fast to users. They’re also big fans of emoji over there, which we appreciate.
One of our favorite tweets: They so punny.
— Indego (@RideIndego) September 26, 2015
Been tweeting since: December 2011
No. of followers: 12K
No. of tweets: 98.2K
Why it made this list: You don’t rack up nearly 100,000 tweets by not responding people, that’s for sure. This branch of SEPTA’s customer service is basically a must-follow for people who use SEPTA on a daily basis. It tweets out relevant information about delays and stoppages, but more importantly, it takes in information from riders and users who are reporting problems from air conditioning not working to broken-down buses. They respond quickly, and have some funny stories, too.
One of our favorite tweets: Clever, clever.
— SEPTA_SOCIAL (@SEPTA_SOCIAL) June 13, 2015
No. of followers: 767
No. of tweets: 2,190
Why it made this list: It’s unclear as to whether or not this account has any, well, power to get things done — but isn’t the first step to fixing a problem admitting that you have one? This relatively new account that’s run by urban planner Victoria Harris documents all the times that the city uses a cone or other object to let people know something is wrong with the street they’re about to drive/ walk/ bike on… instead of actually fixing it. Tweet your pics to this account and you’ll at least get some gratification out of it.
One of our favorite tweets: There are so many to choose from. Our favs are any tweet that depicts a cone saying “be aware of this here thing!”
Be aware. This is no longer a sidewalk. pic.twitter.com/doyn6khAjV
— AwarenessCone (@AwarenessCone) April 26, 2015
The post was updated to include the name of the person who runs the @AwarenessCone account.