PENNDOT Accepting Multi-Modal Fund Applications for 2015-2016. But Hurry!

Don’t ask us why, but PennDOT is now accepting applications for 2015-2016 Multi-Modal Fund, even before the Agency has announced the winners of the 2014 Multi-Modal Fund grant recipients.

That’s well and good, more money is now available to fund projects including bicycle and pedestrian projects. But there is just one catch.

The applications are due September 24th. NEXT WEEK! 

Head Scratcher

We strongly suggest to any local government that has already applied for the 2014 round of funding to apply again. The anecdotal history of competitive transportation funding shows that less than half of the projects will be selected. Furthermore, odds are that a lot of new project applicants will not be able to turn around an application for this very tight deadline.

The PennDOT press release
2015-2016 Multi-Modal Fund Application

 

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Pro Walk Pro Bike Pro Place in Pittsburgh This Week

More than 1000 bicycle, pedestrian and placemaking advocates and professionals will be attending the Pro Walk, Pro Bike, Pro Place conference in Pittsburgh this week. The Bi-Annual event started in 1980 as Pro Bike in Asheville North Carolina with just 100 attendees.

Over the years host cities have been known to unveil new programs or infrastructure, probably because its one of the few conferences that is about the cities themselves. They might not really show off be able to or even roll out anything for say Comic Con but they can put their best foot forward by adding a new bike lane. Often times the Mayor will speak at the conference to make the big announcement.

This year Pittsburgh and its progressive mayor Bill Peduto have taken that aspect to a new level of one upmanship. Aided by the savvy planners and engineers from the Green Lane Project the City was able to seize the low hanging fruit. Three roads that are key to the cities existing bike network happened to have enough space to carve out two way protected bike lanes. Throw in a pop up bike lane on a bridge named after a pop art icon and a bike assembly station at the airport baggage claim and you have a presentation that will be hard for the next city to follow.

See photos below

Photo - Bike Pittsburgh on Facebook

At Pittsburgh International Airport Photo – Bike Pittsburgh on Facebook

Schenleydr

Schenley Drive in Schenley Park – Photo @rjpryan on Twitter

 

Penn Ave Bike Lanes

Penn Ave in Downtown Pittsburgh Photo: @omalley1212 on Twitter

warholbridge temp

Temporary Bike Lane on Andy Warhol Bridge – photo: Andy Warhol Museum on Twitter

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Uber Launches A Statewide Rideshare Campaign

The two rideshare companies in operating in Pennsylvania, Uber and Lyft have been in the headlines lately after the Pennsylvania Utilities Commission (PUC) issued a cease and desist order to stop operating in Allegheny County. And while that issue seems to be drawing to a conclusion, Uber has mobilized their loyal users to help convince the PUC to allow rideshare services to operate throughout the state.

The first thing to know about ridesharing is that it’s not really ride sharing (more on that below). You are simply requesting a ride or e-hailing with a smart phone app. One advantage of using an app is obvious, there is no need to call, but additionally you learn of the drivers identity and license plate. You also can call them with a one push of a button, get a fare estimate and know when he or she is expected to arrive.

But it also is a boon for the driver as well. Since the customer has already registered their name, contact information, credit card number and added an optional photo. This makes the random bad guy pickup far less likely and has made these “taxi” jobs more appealing to job seekers.

Unlike Lyft, Uber has premium levels of service which has allowed them to penetrate markets before going head to head with taxis. Uber’s Black Car and SUV services use PUC certified limousine drivers with fares at about double of its basic level of Uber X. Uber X in fact was created to compete with Lyft and the other startup companies such as SideCar.

In Philadelphia the Taxi and Limousine Commission has not permitted Uber X or SideCar to operate in the City.  But Uber Black Car and Uber SUV have acquired a large following anyway. Oddly enough Uber X does operate in Bucks, Montgomery, Delaware and Chester Counties, which adds to the confusion of the PUC’s actions. One dynamic that has not been studied yet is ridesharing’s impact on small town taxi companies. Uber’s coverage area in Suburban Philadelphia would offer a great test case to observe the effect.

Uber Philadelphia Service ARea

Uber’s service area goes well beyond the Philadelphia City limits.

Two issues that rideshare companies have failed to address are carrying bicycles and people with disabilities. Uber has shown some responsiveness to customer requests such as providing a car seat and wifi. It seems that its easy enough to add bike racks (Uber will be adding bike racks to select Seattle UberX vehicles in the fall). Perhaps it is more of a challenge to add accessible vehicles to the fleet, but doing so could solve both problems and expand the customer base.

True real time ride sharing where a car or a van picks up more than one rider to reach their destinations is not far behind. Last week Uber and Lyft simultaneously launched experimental real time car pool services in San Francisco with the fare per passenger running at approximately half the cost of a typical ride. If successful this could affect the way some choice riders who are dissatisfied with driving alone or taking public transportation get around. Public transportation providers should pay attention as this technology could greatly help paratransit services which often require a phone call 24 hours advance to request a ride on limited days. If transit providers are looking for an existing model to emulate they should check out Helsinki’s Kutsuplus on demand transit service.

All the press in Pittsburgh has raised the awareness of real time ridesharing throughout the state. The pushback from the various taxi companies has added to media circus and although we don’t get our information from the comments section, its clear that the taxi companies have a lot of unattended public relations problems that have to be addressed ASAP. Oddly enough a press release from Lyft seems to suggest that rideshare companies may be deploying similar tactics that the taxi companies are notorious for using against one another. Which if true would imply that the “geniuses” behind ride sharing may not be so smart after all. Regardless as to what the ride sharing landscape looks like in 5 years, bringing this transportation choice to the rest of Pennsylvania seems like a worthwhile endeavor.

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Help Us Make Biking And Walking Better Across Pennsylvania

Take the Survey

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St. Lukes Wants To Get Your “Tail On The Trail”

“Get off the couch and get active” that’s the message that St. Lukes University Health Systems has for Lehigh Valley, Upper Perkiomen, Pocono and Anthracite Region residents. And they are using the nearby 165 mile D&L Trail to help members of the community achieve their personal fitness goals.

Get Your Trail On The Trail

This year St. Lukes is partnering with the D&L Heritage Corridor for its 165 mile challenge. The 165 Mile Challenge is a challenge to log 165 miles of biking, walking or running over 6 months (May to October 2014). The goal is to connect people to the outstanding opportunities along the D&L Trail while increasing health awareness and improving the health status of the community. The challenge is supported by several fitness events on the trail but participants can choose to walk, bike and run anywhere and anytime they please.

 

 

Pennsylvania ranks in the lower half of many health indicator categories, including Obesity (29th), Diabetes (30th) and Physical Inactivity (30th). Reaching out to our health networks to is effective ways to promote active lifestyles to populations that need it the most.

You can sign up for the program here and get frequent updates on Facebook

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