You may have heard that for the month of October, we, along with GoPhillyGo, Indego, and the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, will be celebrating bicycling across Philadelphia with the Love to Ride (LTR) Challenge, a fun, friendly, and free competition to get more people cycling. Increasing bicycling for daily travel is one of the primary goals of our work towards improving air quality in the region. Two of the common cited barriers to cycling include safety and riding, as in knowing where to ride or having other people to ride with. We seek to address these issues by increasing cycling infrastructure, making bicycle trip-planning easy, and advocating for safe streets for all. Read on to learn about our expansive work on bicycle infrastructure, education and advocacy.

Multi-use Trails

We are a proud member of the Circuit Coalition – a group of non-profit organizations, municipalities, and government agencies that are working together to complete the region’s goal of 750 miles of connected multi-use trails. Currently, the Circuit Trails has over 300 miles complete, with about 100 more miles in progress. We are the lead on some of those in progress miles, including the Cobbs Creek Connector Trail and the Heinz Refuge bike/pedestrian connections.

Cobbs Creek Connector Trail

The Cobbs Creek Connector Trail will help complete the Cobbs Creek Trail, a key segment of the East Coast Greenway, and will be an important link between communities to recreational areas and historic sites, like John Heinz Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum (JHNWR), commercial hubs and employment centers. The Connector Trail will run approximately 3 miles from Cobbs Creek Trail’s current southern terminus to the JHNWR, spanning 4 main sections. Click here to learn more about the 4 sections of the Cobbs Creek Connector Trail.

Heinz Refuge Bike/Pedestrian Connections

We are partnering with JHNWR to build 3 additional pedestrian and bicycle friendly links in Philadelphia and Delaware Counties to JHNWR and businesses in the vicinity, including Philadelphia International Airport. Click here to learn more about these 3 connections.

Bike Racks

Secure bike parking is one of the deciding factors on whether a person bikes to work or not. We recognized this several years ago, and since then have been helping businesses with the on-street bike rack  permitting and installation process.

In 2016,  we took on a new (to us) bike rack endeavor – the art rack. We were funded by the Penn Treaty Special Services District and the American Street Empowerment Zone to create and install 15 art racks as well as 10 standard inverted-U bike rack and a bike corral in the Fishtown, Kensington, and Northern Liberties neighborhoods. Art racks not only provide secure bike parking to employees and customers of businesses in these neighborhoods, but they also provide an appealing aesthetic that is as much place making as it is bike parking. These have been created by a local metal worker and have been an exciting asset to add to these neighborhoods.

As an extension of our work with bike racks, the Council was awarded an Azavea Summer of Maps fellow, who helped us analyze where bike racks already exist, how much they are being used, where illegal bike parking is happening, and ultimately design a way to predict how many bike parking spaces per employee or customer are needed in different situations.

Do you know a business that is interested in implementing secure bike parking? Have them contact Will Fraser, Sustainable Transportation Outreach Coordinator, by calling 215-567-4004 ext. 123 or emailing wfraser@cleanair.org.

GoPhillyGo

GoPhillyGo.org is the region’s multimodal trip planner that we created to help make it easier to get around the Greater Philadelphia Area without a car. The website lets users plan biking, walking, public transit directions, or any combination of those modes of travel. GoPhillyGo also gives users the option to make their bike trip flatter, faster, or safer by using the customizable options. A very exciting new addition to the website is the Indego bike share functionality. Not only can you check individual station’s dock availability, but now you can plan a trip from start to end with seamless directions of which station to walk to, how to bike to the end station,you’re your final walking leg, just like taking transit!

As part of GoPhillyGo, we organize bike rides for cyclists of all abilities to environmental centers and nature destinations. Just recently we explored the new Bartram’s Mile, a multi-use trail that goes through Bartram’s Garden, by bike. Subscribe GoPhillyGo’s eNewsletter to stay-up-to-date on our bike rides.

Vision Zero

Finally, one of the most important ways we are working in Philadelphia as an advocate for bicycling is through the Vision Zero Alliance and the city’s subcommittees for Vision Zero. Vision Zero is the approach to traffic safety, first implemented in Sweden, based on the notion that no traffic death is acceptable. Cities that adopt Vision Zero policies have the goal of reducing traffic deaths to zero, and Philadelphia recently established their policy, with a goal of eliminating traffic deaths by 2030. The Council works with the City and other advocates to help this goal be met. In addition to Vision Zero’s importance for the dignity of all road users, there is a clear environmental relationship: as the most vulnerable of roadways users, people will not walk or bike for transportation if it isn’t safe.

What’s Next

Until we reach our Vision Zero goal of zero traffic fatalities and serious injuries, there will be crashes. While many major crashes are reported to police, there are many that are not. Soon we will be debuting a a web tool for reporting minor crashes and close calls. This data can help the City identify areas where improvements for road safety are needed. Remember to always report a crash that results in an injury serious enough to involve medical attention. But, for something minor, help us keep track of when and where those events are happening – stay tuned for Close Calls Philly.

Friday, May 19 was National Bike to Work Day. Clean Air Council celebrated new and experienced bike commuters in the Navy Yard with PIDC, GoPhillyGo, and South Philly Bikes. The turnout was amazing. From South Philly, West Philly, Fishtown and even as far as Manayunk, bike commuters rode down to the Navy Yard, where they work, from all over the City. At our Bike to Work Day Station, cyclists enjoyed free 10-minute tune ups from South Philly Bike Works and refreshments from Philly Foodworks. Some even gave our SEPTA bus-bike rack a try. At 2.2%, Philadelphia has the highest bike commute rate among the 10 largest U.S. cities. Hear why a few Philadelphians bike to work and check out the photos from Bike to Work Day 2017 below.

On Wednesday, March 1, the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia and Uber presented the the Vision Zero Conference at Thomas Jefferson University. Vision Zero is a policy approach that recognizes traffic fatalities as preventable and aims to reduce all traffic deaths through engineering, education, and enforcement. Originating in the 1990s in Sweden, Vision Zero is based on the belief that the loss of life is not an acceptable price to pay for mobility. As of January 2017, 23 U.S. cities have committed to Vision Zero.

In 2016, there were 76 traffic fatalities in Philadelphia. Of those deaths, 36 were pedestrians, 8 were children, and 4 were cyclists. While Vision Zero is still a relatively new concept for Philadelphia, Mayor Kenney took the first step in recognizing these traffic deaths as a public health crisis by issuing the city’s first-ever Vision Zero Executive Order in November 2016. The executive order established Philly’s new Office of Complete Streets and a Vision Zero Task Force. With the goal of eliminating traffic fatalities to zero by 2030, the Task Force released a Vision Zero Draft Three-Year Action Plan on March 7, 2017. Additionally for the first time, the City has dedicated significant funds to Vision Zero in the proposed 2018 budget.

The conference, the third of it’s kind to be organized by the Bicycle Coalition, featured presenters and panelists with a wide range of expertise. These experts included traffic safety researchers, trauma surgeons, city planners, and heads of government agencies, as well as everyday road-users. With the City ready to move towards zero traffic fatalities, here are our 5 takeaways on how to implement Vision Zero in Philadelphia [quotes have been edited for clarity]:

5. Everything revolves around data … better capture & utilization is needed to improve communities. – Dr. Stanton B. Miller, Founding Director of Jefferson Center for Injury Research and Prevention

Data is vital for implementing Vision Zero strategies, but data is often spread across agencies and organizations.  For example, police collect crash data, trauma surgeons track crash injuries, PennDOT monitors traffic information, the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia counts bicyclists, etc., but these organizations don’t often share their findings with each other. By involving all the stakeholders, data can be better shared, analyzed and compared so that the right policies and improvements can be made and lives can be saved.

4. Our city is poor. – Mike Carroll, Deputy Managing Director for Office of Transportation and Infrastructure Systems

Most of us are aware that Philadelphia is the poorest big city in the U.S. There are kids going to school hungry and gun violence is devastating communities and families. So, why should people care about Vision Zero? Emiko Atherton, Director of the National Complete Streets Coalition, said it best: “Investment in Vision Zero is an investment in the community with huge returns.” Not only is it an economic opportunity that can provide safe, affordable, and convenient access to jobs, but it also can help improve public health. By making it safe to bike, walk, and take public transit, people can adopt exercise behavior into their everyday life. Additionally, replacing car trips with those sustainable modes of transit can improve air quality. Instead of taking away from efforts to address other community issues, Vision Zero can help progress those issues.

Futhermore, funding for safety improvements can be hard to find. But, as WSP/Parsons Brinkerhoff and AECOM showed in their corridor design presentations, low-cost, small scale projects completed over time can greatly improve safety for all road-users.

3. Vision Zero network needs to be context sensitive. What works for one community may be different elsewhere. –  Emiko Atherton, Director of the National Complete Streets Coalition, a program of Smart Growth America

Vision Zero is not a one-size-fits-all solution to traffic deaths. It was conceived in Sweden, a very homogenous country whose government works very differently than ours, so what works there might not necessarily work in the United States. Similarly, what works in one U.S. city may not work in another. Vision Zero policy makers need to understand the communities in which they are working and, as Dr. Miller said, they need to recognize the varying cultural perceptions of traffic safety.

2. Priority should be to invest in design first: set table for good behavior. Then education, then enforcement. – Kelley Yemen, Philadelphia’s Dir­ect­or of Com­plete Streets

Engineering, education, and enforcement are Vision Zero’s three main strategies to end traffic fatalities. Engineering focuses on street design. Education aims to not only inform the public about street safety, but also to unify neighborhoods around Vision Zero goals. Enforcement is the use of police strategies to target dangerous traffic behaviors. For communities of color, police encounters can be life threatening. Black men and women are more likely to be subjected to excessive force, touched, handcuffed, pushed to the ground, or pepper-sprayed by a police officer. Philando Castile, Walter Scott, and Samuel Dubose were all fatally shot after getting pulled over by police for minor driving infractions. As Yemen stated, enforcement should be the last resort for Vision Zero.
1. Be kind. – Charles Horton, Executive Director of Commission on People with Disabilities

It’s often forgot that all of us are trying to get safely from point A to point B, and sometimes even points A, B, C, D, and all the way to Z. So, not only is Horton’s message applicable for road-users, but also for those implementing Vision Zero. It can easily feel like Vision Zero is only helping cyclists and pedestrians. Vision Zero should make people feel like they can be the solution to traffic violence, not the cause of it. Vision Zero, when applied correctly, can benefit all road-users and communities. And as moderator Andrew Strober pointed out, “Streets are our most important public space. At least, they should respect human dignity. At best, delight.”

You’re invited to join GoPhillyGo, SPOKE magazine, and Firth & Wilson Transport Cycles on Thursday, February 16 for a multimodal happy hour upstairs at Fergie’s Pub (1214 Sansom St). Philadelphia is fast becoming one of the leading cities in the U.S. to get around without a car, and it just keeps getting better. You’ll hear about an exciting new aspect of GoPhillyGo.org that’s being launched soon, news and plans for the coming year, and you’ll meet up with friends and other multimodal transportation advocates.

RSVP on Eventbrite and join the Multimodal Happy Hour Facebook event page to stay up to date.

We hope to see you there!

What:

Multimodal Transportation Happy Hour hosted by GoPhillyGo, SPOKE magazine, and Firth & Wilson Transport Cycles

When:

Thursday, February 16, 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm

Where:

Fergie’s Pub

2nd Floor

1214 Sansom St., Philadelphia, PA 19107

Plan your multimodal trip with GoPhillyGo.org!

Cost:

Admission is free, finger food is free, and drinks are pay as you go. First 50 people in the door will receive a free drink ticket.

About the Organizations

GoPhillyGo is a free online mapping tool for the Greater Philadelphia area, with a major upgrade coming in 2017. Developed with state-of-the-art mapping technology, this site makes it easy for users to plan their routes through multimodal methods — combining biking + walking + public transportation within one trip — to go anywhere within the Greater Philadelphia area without the use of a car. It even provides details on pedestrian and bike routes, letting users customize their trips. Go to www.gophillygo.org to plan your trip today and connect with GoPhillyGo on Facebook or on Twitter and Instagram at @go_philly_go.

SPOKE magazine informs and engages greater Philadelphia by covering mobility. With a focus on long-form journalism and storytelling, the magazine examines urban life through the lenses of bicycling, walking and mass transit. Go to www.spokemag.bike to read SPOKE magazine today and connect with SPOKE magazine on Facebook or on Twitter and Instagram at @spoke_mag.

Firth & Wilson Transport Cycles is a full-service bicycle shop and retail showroom specializing in transportation and cargo bicycles. Now located at 1105 Frankford Avenue, the shop caters exclusively to the urban cyclist with a full range of bike accessories and bicycles from Yuba, Xtracycle, Babboe, Gazelle, Larry Vs Harry, Pashley, Simcoe, Breezer, Linus, Pure Fix, Pure City, SE, and Torker. The option of a custom fabricated bicycle is also on offer, designed by the shop’s owners under the labels David Wilson Industries (DWI) custom cargo bikes and Hanford Cycles custom frames. Go to www.transportcycle.com for more information, and connect with them on Facebook or on Twitter and Instagram at @transportcycles.

GoPhillyGo.org, the free online mapping site for the greater Philadelphia area from Clean Air Council, has now released a mobile version for use on all mobile devices. Designed to make getting around without a car both easy and fun, the power of GoPhillyGo’s mapping technology will now be available on the go. You’ll be able to take the ultimate trip-planning tool for biking, walking and public transit with you—anywhere you go, any time you need it.

Developed with state-of-the-art open-source mapping technology from Philadelphia-based geospatial technology firm Azavea, GoPhillyGo makes it easy to plan a route through multimodal methods — combining biking, walking, and public transportation within one trip — to go anywhere within the greater Philadelphia area, its surrounding counties, and even into New Jersey without the use of a car. It provides details on pedestrian and bike routes and, on the bike segment of your trip, you can prioritize routes that are faster, flatter, or safer.

“Using GoPhillyGo on your mobile phone is a very exciting advancement for the website,” says Joe Minott, Executive Director of the Clean Air Council. “Obviously that is how so many people are accessing transportation information today, and I’m excited that planning non-car trips just became easier for people in Southeastern Pennsylvania. GoPhillyGo users can now explore some of the region’s most interesting nature-oriented destinations and quickly plan how they’ll get there on bike, foot, public transportation, or any combination.”

The new version of the website comes equipped with mobile functionality, a new look and sleek features, including drag-and-drop locations. Different modes of transport in your route now show up in different colors.

“Incorporating Indego bike share is the other big advancement we are excited about,” explains Nick Rogers, Transportation Program Director for the Clean Air Council. “This really makes planning trips with bike share much easier, and encourages people to use Indego as a transportation mode and not just a recreation activity.” Point-to-point Indego directions, dock locations, and bike availability are now included in the map, helping you get around by bike, even if you don’t own one.

“As a Philadelphia company dedicated to a positive civic and social impact, Azavea is thrilled to partner with the Clean Air Council to promote walking, biking, and riding public transit to our local institutions, parks, and other natural resources,” says Robert Cheetham of Azavea. “Now that GoPhillyGo has gone mobile, anyone in Philadelphia can easily explore the variety of destinations accessible to them. As a company full of bike enthusiasts, we are especially excited about the inclusion of Indego bike share locations into GoPhillyGo biking directions.”

Now, with GoPhillyGo mobile, you can get out of your house and just go. Covering five counties—including Philadelphia—and parts of New Jersey, the new mobile site allows you to plan ahead and take your route with you, change your plans on the fly, or figure it out as you go for a truly spontaneous adventure. Confidently explore Philadelphia; no car needed.

GoPhillyGo.org. Your destination ahead. Your map to getting there.

Clean Air Council is a member-supported, nonprofit environmental organization dedicated to protecting everyone’s right to breathe clean air. The Council has over 8,000 members and works in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey on public education, community advocacy, and legal oversight and enforcement of environmental laws.

 

It’s nomination time for the Clean Air Commute Awards! Each year at the Run for Clean Air, Clean Air Council awards the Clean Air Commute Employer and Clean Air Commuter award to the employer and commuter who are the most committed to sustainable commutes. Our previous winners show different ways of being an exemplary employer—see how your company compares!

Our easy entry form for the Clean Air Commute Employer Award is here, and the Clean Air Commuter form is here. Nominations close March 10, 2017.

Public Transportation Benefits

Public transportation is often a much cheaper commute than driving, but that doesn’t make it a welcome expense. With RideEco, WageWorks, and similar public transportation benefits, employers and commuters save money. Commuters pay for their public transportation with pre-tax earnings, and employers get lower payroll taxes. Some options for the programs allow commuters to receive passes at their workplace, saving time. 2016 Clean Air Commute Employer Yards Brewing Company offers employees a pre-tax benefit, and so does 2016 runner-up Elsevier.

At Clean Air Council, we often talk to commuters who say they’d gladly take public transportation to work if their workplace were more accessible. All three of the Clean Air Commute Employers and runner-up Elsevier purposely chose public transportation accessible locations. 2015 co-winners Azavea and ChatterBlast, as well as Elsevier are all located in or near Center City Philadelphia, and Yards Brewing Company is close to the subway and multiple bus lines.

Bike Parking

Providing a dry, secure, easy place to store commuters’ bikes takes half the hassle out of bike commuting. It’s so helpful and easy to offer that it’s no surprise that all of our Clean Air Commute Employers have indoor bike storage. Secure bike parking can range from an office rack to a secure, separate room. (At Clean Air Council, it’s a metal hanging rack in the conference room, and it’s full except on the wettest and coldest days.)  ChatterBlast and Azavea both have bike racks inside their offices. Yards Brewing Company has bike racks both inside and outside of its brewery in Northern Liberties, and Elsevier shares a locked bike room with its building’s other tenants. No matter the rack style, employees have the peace of mind that their bike is sheltered from the elements and theft. As a bonus, having more bikes in the office can foster a culture of biking as transportation.

Cyclist Support

Often, all it takes to get started commuting by bike is a bike-friendly office culture and a willing guide. Besides bike racks, Azavea’s offices have showers, a changing room, and lockers, so employees don’t have to worry about sweat or spandex at work. Making the cost savings between biking and driving even sweeter, Azavea helps cover the costs of employee’s bike purchases, repair, and accessories. When a non-cyclist joins the ChatterBlast team, they’re often quickly converted, thanks to ChatterBlast’s supportive culture for new bike commuters and monetary incentives for new bikes and bike maintenance. To put that cycling culture to good use, ChatterBlast often sends a team to the Bike MS: City to Shore ride. Indego, Philadelphia’s bike-share program, offers a Corporate Pass Program where employers can contribute to their employees’ monthly pass as well as receive a monthly pass discount of $3 a month below Indego’s standard monthly rate.

Flexible Hours

No matter the mode, traffic, bad weather, or public transportation delays can make commuters late or have to leave for work extra early to arrive at a scheduled time. When employers are flexible about work hours, employees can travel outside of heavy traffic times. They’re spared worry and commute time, and everyone is spared the extra air pollution from traffic congestion. With I-95 construction foreseen to continue for several more years, decongesting rush hour could prevent a lot of headaches—and air-pollution-induced illnesses. Clean Air Council hasn’t had a Clean Air Commute Employer advertise this practice yet, but it’s worth bragging about, and we certainly practice what we preach here at the Council!

Telecommuting

In an increasingly internet-based world, telecommuting is becoming an easier and easier option. You can’t beat staying at home for a time- and pollution-saving commute, so if your company offers telecommuting, let us know!

Vanpooling

Vanpooling—larger-scale carpooling with a third-party van—is a great solution for workplaces where many employees don’t have the option of public transportation or biking. Vanpooling is a great way to reduce traffic congestion, get to know your coworkers—and potentially win a Clean Air Commute Employer award.

Learning More!

Intrigued by the sound of some of these options? Contact us by calling 215-567-4004 ext. 111 or emailing ereinhard@cleanair.org. Clean Air Council’s Cleaner Commute Philadelphia program can help set your company up with any of the benefits listed above. Clean Air Council also does presentations to companies and their employers about sustainable commutes and can help companies build awareness of existing commute benefits. Clean Air Council’s presentation at 2016 runner-up Elsevier made many employees aware of the great benefits Elsevier already offered. Once you’ve built up your sustainable commute portfolio and spread the word, all you have to do is enter the Clean Air Commute Awards!

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