First thing this morning, motorists drove onto the running path that lines Martin Luther King Drive in Philadelphia after a car collided head-on with a minivan, leaving at least one person dead as the morning rush hour went on.
These types of crashes happen every day in Philly, leaving about 100 people dead every year, whether it’s car-on-car, car-on-bike, car-on-pedestrian, or some other combination. Some 10,600 collisions happen on a yearly basis.
Urban planners and advocates championing the ideas of “Vision Zero” and “Complete Streets” say the problem can be fixed — or at least tamed.
“It’s really all about protecting and making the street network safer for all users,” Sarah Clark Stuart, executive director of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, said.
Stuart is a member of the transition team that laid out goals and end dates for new Mayor Jim Kenney’s first year in office. According to a report released earlier this week by the administration, Kenney’s Committee on Infrastructure and Transportation laid out a number of goals ranging from installing more bike share stations to ensuring the equitable roll-out of SEPTA’s new electronic payment system to conducting studies for how to make Roosevelt Boulevard safer for users.
One of the major initiatives is that by July 1 of this year, the transition team recommended Kenney should have established an “Office of Complete Streets,” along with a Complete Streets working group and website dedicated to maintaining communication with the public.
And these efforts go hand-in-hand with the ultimate goal: “Vision Zero.” This initiative, which has been widely funded and advertised in New York, works to account for human error in the designing of streets with the hope of one day cutting traffic fatalities to zero.
Here’s a look at some of what Kenney’s transition team — which was handpicked by him and his administration — recommends he do to improve the streets for cars, pedestrians and cyclists within the next year:
By July 1
Vision Zero task force
The recommended Kenney’s administration should implement a “Vision Zero Action Plan” to work toward eliminating traffic fatalities that would be developed along with a Vision Zero Task Force made up of government representatives and members of the public. According to the transition team: “That task force should establish a clear, accountable goal, develop an implementation plan of action, and conduct a one year evaluation.” Also expect transportation safety awareness classes for pedestrians and cyclists.
Kenney spoke last year at the Vision Zero Conference. Here’s what he said:
Establish an Office of Complete Streets
This new office would have a director to communicate with multiple city agencies — Streets Department, Licenses and Inspections, Parks and Recreation — in order to keep track of street projects across the city and implement principles of “complete streets” design along the way. That could include everything from protected bike lanes (lanes that are separated from vehicle traffic by some sort of barrier) to widening sidewalks or engineering ways to decrease the number of cars adn trucks on the road.
Philadelphia’s still-relatively-new bike share program has goals of expanding across the city. Kenney’s administration is expected to work with Indego to add new stations to other neighborhoods across the city, as the majority of the stations are currently concentrated around the Center City area.
Work toward Circuit Trail completion
Philadelphia has 25 miles of circuit trails that aren’t yet completed from the Schuylkill River Trail to the Delaware River Trail. It also includes the Tacony Creek Trail and some parts of the Pennypack Trail. Within the next five months, Kenney’s transition team wants the administration to issue a report on the planning process for Circuit Trail completion along with dates for how long it could take.
By Jan. 1, 2017
Begin looking at the Boulevard
Just think about the number of times you’ve heard about an accident along Roosevelt Boulevard. You probably know that if you’ve ever driven/ biked/ dared to walk alongside the street. That’s why Kenney’s transition team wants officials to begin a multimodal study and analysis of Roosevelt Boulevard and come up with strategies for police to increase enforcement.
Fifteen miles of new bike lanes and trails
The city currently has more than 400 miles of bike lanes, and Kenney’s transition team wants the administration to have plans in place by Jan. 1 to implement 15 miles of new bike lanes and circuit trails. The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia has already identified not only where 15 miles of bike lanes could go, but where 30 miles of protected bike lanes could be placed in the coming years.