On Thursday, Councilman Mark Squilla, Chair of the Streets and Services Committee, introduced three bills on the Council floor proposing two new bike lanes, and eliminating parking along Torresdale Avenue where the Pennypack Trail crosses in Holmesburg.
This came a day after the Streets and Services Committee moved forward on the bills. According to Plan Philly, City Spokesman Mike Dunn told them in an email that he hopes the lanes will be open by the end of the year.
One of the proposed bike lanes would be installed along Race Street between 8th and 5th streets in Chinatown. This particular corridor is heavily trafficked, especially during rush hour, with vehicles headed toward the Ben Franklin Bridge. Race Street turns from three to four lanes that are not clearly marked, adding to potential driver confusion.
The new lane would be parking protected from 8th to 6th, and would also create a much safer connection between Chinatown and Franklin Square, which is one of the only green spaces in the neighborhood.
The second bill is to install non-protected bike lanes in both directions along Island Avenue and Enterprise Ave in Southwest Philadelphia near the airport. These lanes will allow cyclists who work in this business and industrial area a safe path from nearby transit stops like the Eastwick Regional Rail Station.
The third bill, proposed in committee by Councilman Henon, removes parking along the 8100 block of Torresdale Avenue in order to allow Pennypack Trail users a clear place to cross the road. This is a wooded stretch of Torresdale Avenue is a key crossing point of the 14.4 mile trail that runs from Huntingdon Valley in Montgomery County all the way to Holmesburg in Northeast Philadelphia.
We spoke with Councilman Squilla briefly outside City Council chambers. “Councilman Henon introduced a bill, and we’re strongly in favor of the bill to allow the trail to continue,” Councilman Squilla said.” “I think it’s a great way to have more open space.”
All three of these are key to the success of Philadelphia’s Vision Zero plan. Safe connections like the Pennypack Trail at Torresdale Avenue will allow people to pursue alternative modes of transportation, and ease the pollution and congestion cars produce every day.
“This just lends the City’s upward motion to keep people who have different modes of transportation and ways of getting to different locations through this trail connector which is a great thing for not only the City but hopefully throughout the Commonwealth,” Councilman Squilla said. “Any time you can have dedicated trails, and people where they are put in a place where it’s safer to transverse, it definitely will help with our plan for Vision Zero.”
Clean Air Council was awarded an Azavea 2017 Summer of Maps fellowship program to better understand the state of Philadelphia’s bicycle parking demand, and pinpoint areas in Center City with limited bicycle parking infrastructure, or where the infrastructure did not meet the demand. The project centered on finding variables that could explain the bike parking demand, using employment data, on road bike facilities, Indego trips, and other data. One of the major goals is to be able to predict bike parking demand in other locations, in order to provide appropriate bike parking infrastructure. Data collected from this study will be used to identify gaps in bike parking, and lay the groundwork for interested investment in safe and secure bike parking.
Philadelphia’s 2013 bike rack study, conducted by the Mayor’s Internship Program, created a baseline for bike parking in Center City. The results of the City’s 2013 study found the number of bikes parked on sidewalks exceeded the existing bike rack capacity. The study also revealed formal bike parking was not being utilized on streets with bike racks. Bike parking exceeded demand in some Center City areas while not satisfying demand in other areas.
The Council made the most of the opportunity to work with an Azavea fellow with expertise in geospatial data analysis by not only getting in-depth analysis, but also collecting a new round of data. In order to understand the factors that contribute to an area’s bike parking demand, the Council first needed to determine which downtown Philadelphia areas are in most need of bike parking by locating and identifying every existing bike rack in Center City, as well as every bike that is parked in Center City, and whether it is to a rack or another informal structure.
The Council used the Fulcrum app to collect data using cell phones. Staff from Azavea and Clean Air Council used the app to geolocate bikes and bike racks on all streets between the Schuylkill and Delaware Rivers from South Street to Vine Street. Locating formal bike rack parking included differentiating between inverted U/staple racks, bike corrals, and parking meters. The study also documented informal bike parking including bikes locked to railings, trees, poles, scaffolding, and fences. Conflicts that prevented bicycles from correctly locking to a rack, and bike racks appearing damaged or in disrepair were also noted.
The whole process of walking all of center city during daytime, work week hours took 12 staff and volunteers between the two organizations, 6 days, and collected 4,000 data points!
Capturing existing bike parking infrastructure allowed Azavea to provide accurate mapping images of bike parking demand. Azavea’s analysis was based on several data sets ranging from census job data to transit station locations to bicycle trip data.
Indego bikeshare’s public data allowed Azavea to look at the number of one-way weekday trips from 7-11am from April through September 2016. This gave a baseline of how many cyclists were travelling to different parts of Center City during work week morning hours. Total number of jobs, in addition to land use, helped identify areas in Center City most likely to host employees commuting by bike. Proximity to bike lanes and distance to train stations were also added factors to the predicted demand equation.
Azavea found a linear regression equation to be the best fit in determining the need for bike parking, while being easy to interpret and able to be written as a formula, Y = β0 + β1X1 + β2X2 + β3X3 + Ɛ. The final list of variables that can be used to predict the demand for bicycle parking include: formal capacity, total jobs, Indego bike trips, commercial consumer land use, commercial business and professional land use, and mixed commercial and residential land use.
In addition to pointing out all over Center City where there is a clear need for increased bike parking infrastructure due to the level of informal bike parking, the model also identifies a few areas that should be looked at more because they show high demand in the model. The study found three areas where eight to ten additional bike parking spaces are needed. These areas include 13th and Market Street around the entrances to the El station, around Liberty Place on Market Street between 17th and 18th Streets and around the department stores near Jefferson Station between Market Street and Filbert Street and from 7th to 10th Streets. The study found the City’s Municipal Services Building, between JFK Boulevard and Arch Street between Broad and 15th Streets, and Jefferson Hospital’s Lubert Plaza between 10th and 11th Streets and between Locust and Walnut Streets to be where bike parking was used the most.
Around Liberty Place
This model shows the best correlation between actual use and predicted demand of bike parking, though the model did produce some inaccurate results. In areas shown in dark red, the model over predicted the need for bike parking. In the dark blue areas, the model under predicted demand. It was pointed out by Azavea’s fellow that the census data used was wide in scope for a study as precise as ours. Lastly, the Fulcrum app used to collect bike rack data would sometimes locate racks on the opposite side of the street leading to some inaccuracy.
The equation used for this analysis was not tested outside Center City, but the Council hopes to do this in the future. Indego bike trips were used in the final prediction formula making models outside of Indego’s service area inaccurate, but another formula that did not include Indego as a predicting variable was also created so that this could be used in other areas of the city.
Exactly 17 days passed since Emily Fredricks was struck and killed by a private garbage truck while riding in the bike lane along Spruce Street before another cyclist was again struck by a turning truck while riding in a bike lane. This time the crash occurred near 13th and Pine Streets, just a couple blocks from where Fredricks was killed, and is once again igniting the call for more protected bike lanes throughout Philadelphia.
This morning, over 100 people gathered today to again form a human barrier between traffic and the bike lane along 13th Street, and show support for Becca Refford, 24, who was commuting to work when she was hit. Refford waved and smiled at the people who made the human bike lane from her hospital bed via Facetime.
Another serious crash so soon after the death of Emily Fredericks should make clear that paint-buffered bike lanes are not good enough protection on the most used, high traffic streets in Philadelphia.
Last week, the City took a small step by committing to a short section of protected bike lanes on South Street and 27th Street near the South Street Bridge. Unfortunately this is a compromise from the original plan to include a protected bike lane along Lombard Street as well.
Spruce Street, Pine Street, Lombard, and 13th Street are some of the most highly traveled bike lanes in Philadelphia. It is important that these roads be upgraded from lines of paint to physical barriers, the past three weeks have clearly demonstrated the need. Call Councilmen Kenyatta Johnson and Mark Squilla to thank them for the small addition to the City’s protected bike lane network, and demand that they take further steps to rapidly install protected bike lanes on all of center city’s bike lanes.
Clean Air Council and partners Moms Clean Air Force, Clean Water Action, and Earthworks joined residents affected by natural gas operations and a Harrisburg-area physician to speak at a press conference and Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) air quality committee meeting.
Members from Clean Air Council and their partners spoke on the steps of the Rachel Carson State Office Building, just a few blocks from Governor Wolf’s office. You can watch excerpts from the press conference below.
The comments were a continuation of advocacy that has spanned three years urging Governor Wolf to fulfill his campaign promises on methane controls for the natural gas industry. At the meeting, the DEP presented the final draft of permits to control methane pollution from new and modified natural gas operations.
The Department also presented concepts to control volatile organic compounds from existing natural gas operations, which are the bare minimum they are required to do under federal guidelines. You can read the full press release here.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
December 14, 2017
Justin Wasser, Clean Air Council: 814-242-3156
Impacted Residents, Health Experts and Environmental Advocates Urge Gov. Wolf to Advance Methane Pollution Standards for the Natural Gas Sector
Harrisburg, PA (December 14, 2017)- The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) presented today the final draft of permits to control methane pollution from new and modified natural gas operations to the Air Quality Technical Advisory Committee (AQTAC). Residents affected by natural gas operations, as well as environmental and public health advocacy groups from across the Commonwealth, spoke at a press conference and at the AQTAC meeting during the public comment period. The comments were a continuation of advocacy that has spanned three years urging Governor Wolf to fulfill his campaign promises on methane controls. Wolf first promised to cut methane pollution from all new and existing gas operations on the campaign trail in 2014. He announced his methane reduction strategy in January 2016.
Environmental and public health advocacy groups and impacted residents were pleased to finally see progress made on the methane reduction plan at the meeting, but say that the Wolf administration must quickly finalize general permits and require companies to comply with them. Groups raised concerns about the administration’s proposed concepts for weaker rules covering existing source of methane pollution — a major departure from what the governor promised to do.
“While the progress being made on methane standards covering new natural gas sources is encouraging, the Wolf administration must move quickly to regulate existing sources in a similar way,” said Joseph Otis Minott, Executive Director and Chief Counsel of Clean Air Council. “What DEP is proposing to implement on existing sources is the bare minimum required by law. Governor Wolf must go well beyond the bare minimum in protecting the health of Pennsylvania citizens. We elected this governor based on his promises to be a leader in addressing methane pollution and climate change. Pennsylvanians deserve that leadership.”
Methane, a very potent greenhouse gas, is accompanied by air pollutants harmful to human health when it leaks from natural gas operations. Emissions in Pennsylvania continue to rise year after year.
The standards for new and modified sources will be implemented through two general permits, which allow for a streamlined approval process if industry operators agree to adhere to the permit conditions. One permit, GP-5A, covers unconventional gas wells and pigging operations and the other, GP-5, covers processing plants and compressor stations, including those on large transmission pipelines.
“Comprehensive methane rules for existing sources of pollution must be broader in scope and more stringent than the requirements found in EPA guidelines,” said Robert Routh, staff attorney for Clean Air Council. “These guidelines represent the national floor. Governor Wolf and DEP need to lead here and aim much higher for the sake of all Pennsylvanians.”
“The citizens of the commonwealth are suffering needlessly when we have the tools and technology available to greatly limit methane pollution and help clean our air,” said Dr. Robert Little, a family physician and president of the Harrisburg/Hershey chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility. “It bears emphasizing that we need to clear our air of both toxic hydrocarbons and emissions of methane – reducing one kind of pollution without the other gets us nowhere.”
“Until these new source rules are applied to existing sources, people in my community and others dealing with methane pollution right now are still looking at an unfulfilled promise by Governor Wolf,” said Lois Bower-Bjornson, an impacted resident of Washington County, PA. “I am urging Governor Wolf to be that leader who campaigned on a promise of holding the natural gas industry accountable to the people of Pennsylvania and move forward on rules for existing sources of methane pollution and VOCs immediately.”
“Today, my children and 3,200 of their classmates are attending school next to a gas well pad roughly half a mile away exposing them to a known health and safety risk from oil and gas air pollution including emissions of methane and volatile organic compounds,” said Patrice Tomcik, a mother of two sons from Butler County and a Field Consultant with Moms Clean Air Force, a 1 million member strong organization. “Let’s be clear: This problem will not be resolved unless and until DEP addresses these toxic pollutants like benzene, as well as methane emissions.”
[Nov. 06, 2017-PHILADELPHIA] — On behalf of Clean Air Council and two Pennsylvania children, Hausfeld filed suit today in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania against the federal government to prevent it from rolling back policies, programs, laws, rules, and regulations previously in place to address and ameliorate climate change and its consequences. This pro bono litigation focuses on the federal government’s knowledge (dating back over fifty years) that climate change presents a clear and present danger to life, and represents an urgent and potentially irreversible threat to human societies and the planet. You can read the full complaint here.
The United States has experienced a steady increase in extreme weather events caused by climate change, as exemplified most recently by the devastating impact of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, and the October California wildfires. If not adequately addressed, climate change will cause human deaths, shorten human life spans, result in widespread damage to property, threaten human food sources, drastically affect human air quality, and dramatically alter the planet’s ecosystem to the detriment of the plaintiffs in this case, their children and grandchildren, and all future generations.
The federal government has relied on junk science to implement reckless climate change policies in the face of indisputable U.S. and international scientific consensus. It is the government’s responsibility to protect the lives and welfare of citizens and the life-sustaining resources they depend on. These acts of deliberate indifference are increasing U.S. contributions to climate change, thereby increasing the frequency and intensity of its life-threatening effects, and violating the constitutional rights of all U.S. citizens.
Plaintiffs are leading Philadelphia environmental nonprofit Clean Air Council and two child plaintiffs who have been personally impacted by climate change. The Federal Government Defendants include President Donald Trump, the Department of Energy, Secretary Rick Perry, the Environmental Protection Agency, and Administrator Scott Pruitt.
Clean Air Council Executive Director and Chief Counsel Joseph Minott said: “We will not stand idly by while President Trump and his agencies raze crucial environmental protections, ignore climate science, dispute well-documented facts and force future generations of Americans to suffer the consequences of this administration’s reckless choices and ignorant policies. We must hold the federal government accountable for the long-term environmental harm that is propagating under its direction. It’s time to fight back.”
Scientists refer to climate change as the most important issue of our time. Human contribution to climate change, which exacerbates its effects, has reached a critical moment, the consequences of which are potentially irreversible. Hausfeld Chairman Michael D. Hausfeld stated: “By deliberately engaging in this rollback of climate policies and programs, the government is affirmatively endangering the lives and welfare of its citizens.”
This lawsuit comes on the heels of the federal government’s release of the National Climate Assessment, which, in stark contrast to the administration’s environmental policies, affirms that climate change is almost entirely caused by human action and is a growing threat to the United States.
Hausfeld attorneys working on this case include Michael D. Hausfeld, Seth R. Gassman, Katie R. Beran, Braden Beard, and Michaela Spero.
For further information or to arrange interviews please contact:
(215) 564-3200 ext. 162
NOTES TO EDITORS
Hausfeld is a leading global law firm with offices in Berlin, Boston, Brussels, Düsseldorf, London, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Washington, DC. The firm has a broad range of complex litigation expertise, particularly in antitrust/competition, financial services, sports and entertainment, environmental, mass torts, consumer protection, and human rights matters, often with an international dimension. Hausfeld aims to achieve the best possible results for clients through its practical and commercial approach, avoiding litigation where feasible, yet litigating robustly when necessary. Hausfeld’s extensive experience with alternative and innovative fee models offers clients a diverse menu of engagement options and maximum flexibility in terms of managing their cost exposure.
Hausfeld is the only claimants’ firm to be ranked by the Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners as a top tier firm in private enforcement of antitrust/competition law in both the United States and the United Kingdom. For more information about the firm, including recent trial victories and landmark settlements, please visit: www.hausfeld.com.
About Clean Air Council
Clean Air Council is a member-supported, non-profit environmental organization dedicated to protecting everyone’s right to breathe clean air. The Council is headquartered in Philadelphia and works through public education, community organizing, advocacy, and government oversight to ensure enforcement of environmental laws. For more information, please visit www.cleanair.org.
The point where the Wissahickon Creek meets the Schuylkill River has been an important link to travel in the area for thousands of years. Today, it’s highly congested with transit and vehicle traffic entering and exiting the Roosevelt and Schuylkill Expressways.
It’s a hub for SEPTA with 11 bus routes stopping at the Wissahickon Transportation Center, and the Wissahickon Regional Rail Station just a few hundred feet away, Two of the region’s most popular trails, the Schuylkill and Wissahickon, converge here as well. “We have all these modes of transportation butting heads here,” said Matt Wysong, Senior Planner at the Philadelphia Planning Commission. “That was an obvious issue we identified in this plan.”
Thousands of commuters pass through the Wissahickon Transportation Center (WTC) and along Ridge Avenue every day heading into Center City, and also west to the suburbs. The city’s Planning Commission has identified this part of the city as a focus area for improving service and accessibility to riders, and recently conducted a boots on the ground survey to find out what people think about their commute through this area.
“We are here today to talk to the people that use the area,” Wysong said. “To get a better understanding of what they see as the conditions on the ground, the issues and the greater opportunities.”
Wysong and a small group of surveyors from Clean Air Council and the city’s Planning Commission were out during peak hours, speaking to people getting off buses and riding bikes along the Wissahickon trail. Wysong told us that many people riding SEPTA often took more than one bus to get to their destination, and some even had commutes that were two hours long.
Wysong says he noticed the area is particularly hard for cyclists to navigate. “What I am observing here is that there is a lot of conflicts for bicyclists,” Wysong said. “They’re just trying to use every inch of space to kind of get through it somehow.” He pointed out that with no clear path through the area, cyclists run the risk of colliding with cars and pedestrians.
SEPTA recently received federal funding to update WTC, and Wysong tells us that SEPTA is looking to expand to the lot next door. He says this would allow for double the capacity of the current WTC. He also tells us that once SEPTA completes this project, Parks and Recreation wants to connect the Schuylkill River trail along the water.
Currently, trail users are forced to travel through this congested area before getting back on the Schuylkill River Trail. Once finished, the trail will eventually connect to the Pencoyd bridge over the Schuylkill River and allow riders to enjoy trails on either side of the river. This is one of the last remaining undeveloped segments of the Schuylkill River Trail, and once it’s linked up here, riders will be able to enjoy a safe ride all the way up to Pottsville.
For more info on the project and public hearings regarding the study click here.