Friday, August 8, 2014

Bike tech in Copenhagen: A lot more than green paint

In most towns in this country we don’t do a very good job of prioritizing bicycle transportation – despite the many benefits of a bigger mode share for bikes.  The bike share systems springing up around the country have been a great success, but the rest of what passes for bike infrastructure usually consists of some green paint and “share the road” signs at best.  (Sharing the road often meaning sharing a potholed free-for-all with 18-wheelers, racing taxi drivers, and drivers talking on cellphones!)

Thanks to Gizmodo (here) for showing us the latest from Copenhagen, where good planning and design really work for bikes.  Some of these solutions are relatively expensive, like bike-only bridges.  Others harness relatively inexpensive technology.  I especially like the “green wave” of LED lights letting bicyclists know they are moving at a pace that will give them a green signal at upcoming traffic lights.  Lots more to do here in the U.S.!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Planning for more money in Pennsylvania!

The impact of Pennsylvania’s Act 89, raising new transportation revenue from motor fuels, is beginning to be felt.  DVRPC – the Philadelphia area MPO – has just added $10.5 Billion in new investments to their long-range plan (story here)!
The new revenue is split roughly in half between highways and transit.  The transit piece will allow SEPTA (the regional operator) to get a little beyond the massive need for system preservation and actually add a couple of extensions.  One of these, the extension of the Norristown High-Speed Line to the King of Prussia mall complex, could ultimately have real impact on land use and mobility issues (see comparison to Tysons Corner here).  This just scratches the surface of what we really need to do to build a real 21st century transportation system in the next 25 years, but at least it’s a start.
On the highway side, half of the funding will go for bridges.  Pennsylvania has the dubious distinction of leading the nation in structurally deficient bridges, and PennDOT is aggressively moving forward to attack the problem.  The highway side also includes expanded bike/ped funding.
What is noteworthy, as I have mentioned before, is that this revenue growth has been achieved in a state with a Republican governor and legislature.  This should be enough to challenge stereotypes and to encourage vigorous action in other states and even (we have to say “even”) at the federal level.

There are many factors behind Pennsylvania’s step forward, but a major one is leadership.  There were many leaders involved, including Governor Corbett, PennDOT Secretary Schoch, former governor Rendell, and others.  But first prize undoubtedly goes to State Senator John Rafferty, chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, who shepherded the bill from inception to signing.  His explanation for his commitment to the bill?:  transportation is a core function of government, and we need to fix it.  Refreshing.