Rob McCord Responses to PAWB Candidate Questionnaire

PA Walk and Bikes asked the four democratic candidates to answer our questionnaire about their position on biking and walking issues.   We are putting up each response in separate blog posts.

CANDIDATE ROB MCCORD RESPONSE

In the state of Pennsylvania, 12% of all traffic fatalities are bicyclists and pedestrians. While overall traffic fatalities are decreasing, bicycle and pedestrian deaths are not. Unlike our peers in New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, New York or almost any other state in the country, PennDOT does not have a bicycle and pedestrian office.

1. What value do you see is in encouraging biking and walking in Pennsylvania?

Generally, I believe the commonwealth should do more to encourage non-motorized forms of transportation as a means of reducing traffic congestion, encouraging healthy physical activity, and reducing automobile pollution.

That requires making communities and roadways friendlier to pedestrians and bicyclists. I’m pleased that last year’s transportation funding bill recognized the need to invest in bicycle and pedestrian projects. As governor,

I will ensure those dollars are spent wisely and that bicycle and pedestrian projects that apply for funding are given full consideration.

2. Will you set a goal to reduce pedestrian and bicycle fatalities by half by 2025?

Yes. Based on federal statistics, I believe there are specific things we can do to improve safety. For instance, in 2012, the highest risk period appears to have been between the hours of 4 p.m. and midnight. Forty-eight percent of bicyclists and 56 percent of pedestrian fatalities occurred during this window.

Additionally, nearly 70 percent of bicyclist and 73 percent of pedestrian fatalities occurred in urban areas that year. If we focus on these two areas alone, we can make a measurable difference and dramatically reduce the loss of life.

3. PennDOT needs to establish a bicycle and pedestrian office that is adequately staffed to:

  • update PennDOT design manuals and train PennDOT engineers in current bicycle and pedestrian best practices,
  • update and monitor the statewide bicycle and pedestrian master plans,
  • assist MPOs, counties and municipalities in drafting bicycle and pedestrian master plans,
  • develop a data-driven cost estimate of building out all proposed bicycle and pedestrian facilities, trails and bicycle routes statewide that can be include in the Long Range Transportation Plan.

Will you establish such an office?

Yes. I want nonmotorized modes of transportation to be a priority, but that cannot happen so long as the people within state government who are responsible for advancing the issue are competing with other interests and demands on their time.

4. Will you ask PennDOT and DCNR to set 10-year goals for the number of miles of bike lanes and trails to be built across Pennsylvania?

Yes. That work must start with developing a master plan – something that I believe is long overdue in Pennsylvania. To the best of my knowledge, PennDOT’s last master plan for bicycle and pedestrian transportation was published in 2007. After seven years, it’s time for an update, and I will engage multiple state agencies, as well as the public (specifically including PA Walks and Bikes, the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, and BikePGH) in that work.

5. Will you support spending a percentage of federal Transportation Alternatives Program funds and Pennsylvania’s Multi-Modal Fund on Safe Routes to School projects?

Yes. Obviously the Safe Routes to School program is targeted at making sure our children can make it from home to their classrooms safely, but these projects benefit the entire community. I want to ensure we’re taking full advantage of every potential federal dollar and that we leverage public funds to secure the most funding from other sources. Additionally, we need to ensure schools have the expertise they need to successfully pursue this funding and advance the projects they’ve identified.

6. Will you support speed camera enforcement for roads where excessive speeding is a particular safety hazard?

I do support speed cameras because I think they can be an effective and efficient deterrent against speeding, which consequently could save lives, too.  And while I’m sensitive to concerns over the accuracy of these automated systems, I do not think that concern represents an insurmountable challenge. If the legislature allows speed cameras as an enforcement tool, I want to be sure we implement only the most dependable and reliable systems and test it thoroughly to ensure accuracy.

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Katie McGinty Responds to PAWB Candidate Questionnaire

PA Walk and Bikes asked the four democratic candidates to answer our questionnaire about their position on biking and walking issues.   We are putting up each response in separate blog posts.

CANDIDATE KATIE MCGINTY RESPONSE

In the state of Pennsylvania, 12% of all traffic fatalities are bicyclists and pedestrians. While overall traffic fatalities are decreasing, bicycle and pedestrian deaths are not. Unlike our peers in New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, New York or almost any other state in the country, PennDOT does not have a bicycle and pedestrian office.

1. What value do you see is in encouraging biking and walking in Pennsylvania?

In addition to the vital health and wellbeing value of encouraging biking and walking in Pennsylvania, I believe that these activities also can provide an economic and environmental impact in every region of our state. Walking or biking provide Pennsylvanian’s with an alternative to driving that can save them money, while protecting the air we breathe by reducing carbon emissions. As governor, I would pledge to bring together organizations like Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia and BikePGH, with PennDOT and the state’s Department of Economic Development to develop a plan to create and promote more walkable and bike-friendly cities and communities. I strongly believe, that investing in our communities to enhance, improve and expand Pennsylvania’s walking/biking options also drives economic development, bringing more foot traffic into a community, as well as creating a safer, stronger community that we can all be proud.

2. Will you set a goal to reduce pedestrian and bicycle fatalities by half by 2025?

Yes

3. PennDOT needs to establish a bicycle and pedestrian office that is adequately staffed to:

  • update PennDOT design manuals and train PennDOT engineers in current bicycle and pedestrian best practices,
  • update and monitor the statewide bicycle and pedestrian master plans,
  • assist MPOs, counties and municipalities in drafting bicycle and pedestrian master plans,
  • develop a data-driven cost estimate of building out all proposed bicycle and pedestrian facilities, trails and bicycle routes statewide that can be included in the Long Range Transportation Plan.

Will you establish such an office?

Yes

4. Will you ask PennDOT and DCNR to set 10-year goals for the number of miles of bike lanes and trails to be built across Pennsylvania?

Yes

5. Will you support spending a percentage of federal Transportation Alternatives Program funds and Pennsylvania’s Multi-Modal Fund on Safe Routes to School projects?

Yes

6. Will you support speed camera enforcement for roads where excessive speeding is a particular safety hazard?

Yes

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Allyson Schwartz Responses to PAWB Candidate Questionnaire

PA Walk and Bikes asked the four democratic candidates to answer a questionnaire about their position on biking and walking issues.   We are putting up each response in separate blog posts.

CANDIDATE ALLYSON SCHWARTZ RESPONSE

In the state of Pennsylvania, 12% of all traffic fatalities are bicyclists and pedestrians. While overall traffic fatalities are decreasing, bicycle and pedestrian deaths are not. Unlike our peers in New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, New York or almost any other state in the country, PennDOT does not have a bicycle and pedestrian office.

1. What value do you see is in encouraging biking and walking in Pennsylvania?

I am a bicyclist myself. As a member of both the Livable Communities Task Force and the Congressional Bike Caucus in the U.S. House, one of my top priorities has been to improve neighborhoods in Pennsylvania and across the country by making areas greener, safer, more livable and more bike-and-pedestrian friendly. I have built a strong, proven record of working to encourage biking and walking in Pennsylvania. The benefits are obvious and many. They include improved health and lower healthcare costs; less traffic congestion, reduced air pollution, and less greenhouse gas emissions.

I have been an advocate – and have helped to provide funding – for The Circuit bike/ped trail in the Philadelphia area. In October 2012, I helped to break ground for the Port Richmond Trail along the Delaware River in Northeast Philadelphia. As a member of Congress, I helped obtain the federal TIGER grant that made the project possible.

Altogether, I have helped secure $23 million in TIGER grants for 16.3 miles of pedestrian and bicycle facilities in the Philadelphia area. These miles are part of a 128-mile circuit crossing through six counties in southeastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey. Eventually, The Circuit could encompass 500 miles. We are getting it done, piece by piece.

2. Will you set a goal to reduce pedestrian and bicycle fatalities by half by 2025?

Our streets belong to all of our citizens, and that certainly includes pedestrians and cyclists. To both encourage bicycle commuting and to make our streets safer, Pennsylvania should adopt a Complete Streets policy. Complete Streets policies balance the needs of cars, pedestrians, and cyclists with dedicated space for each. The City of Philadelphia in 2009 adopted a complete streets policy that has made a real difference on the ground level. Complete Streets advocates have made a push for such a program in Pittsburgh.

As governor, I will adopt a state Complete Streets policy that encourages and supports local communities in adopting Complete Streets plans. I cannot forecast whether this program, together with other pro-bike, pro-walking measures, will lead to a 50 percent reduction in fatalities. But it will certainly make a difference.

I will meet with stakeholders to consider whether Pennsylvania’s mandatory bicycle helmet law should be amended to protect more of our youth. The current law requires helmet use by riders 12 and under. Among our neighbor states, only Ohio (which has no mandatory helmet law) does less to protect teenage riders. New Jersey covers riders 17 and younger; Delaware, 16 and under; West Virginia, 15 and under; and New York, 14 and under.

3. PennDOT needs to establish a bicycle and pedestrian office that is adequately staffed to:

  • update PennDOT design manuals and train PennDOT engineers in current bicycle and pedestrian best practices,
  • update and monitor the statewide bicycle and pedestrian master plans,
  • assist MPOs, counties and municipalities in drafting bicycle and pedestrian master plans,
  • develop a data-driven cost estimate of building out all proposed bicycle and pedestrian facilities, trails and bicycle routes statewide that can be included in the Long Range Transportation Plan.

Will you establish such an office?

Yes.

4. Will you ask PennDOT and DCNR to set 10-year goals for the number of miles of bike lanes and trails to be built across Pennsylvania?

Yes.

5. Will you support spending a percentage of federal Transportation Alternatives Program funds and Pennsylvania’s Multi-Modal Fund on Safe Routes to School projects?

I will convene stakeholders on this issue to obtain the best-possible guidance, and I will pursue the best-possible actions.

6. Will you support speed camera enforcement for roads where excessive speeding is a particular safety hazard?

I will convene stakeholders on this issue to obtain the best-possible guidance, and I will pursue the best-possible actions.

Allyson Schwartz’ position paper on Transportation

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A Dramatic Win for the Future of Biking and Walking in the Keystone State

As almost everyone now knows, there was high political drama this past week. The transportation funding bill that had been in the works for the past ten months failed twice on Monday, and then passed on the third try (104-95; click for roll call) on Tuesday. It was a huge relief to see it get through the Senate on Wednesday (43-27), and again in the House for a concurrence vote on Thursday (113-85).  It is expected to be signed by the Governor next week.

Tremendous credit for this success goes to PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch, who worked diligently for several years to make the case for the nearly $2.4 billion package, and fought hard to keep the issue front and center even after the House was unable to take a vote in June and rejected versions of the bill twice on Monday night.

What will this bill do for biking and walking? A lot. As the Secretary told advocates Monday night, “This is the biggest step forward for the bicycle and pedestrian modes of transportation in the history of Pennsylvania.” The bill:

  • Creates a multi-modal fund that grows from $30 to $144 million over a 5-year period, to which bicycle and pedestrian projects can apply for funding;
  • Sets an annual minimum of $2 million of that fund to be spent on bicycle and pedestrian facilities;
  • Makes it easier to use state transportation money for pedestrian safety projects, streetscaping & lighting;
  • Explicitly states that Pennsylvania’s comprehensive transportation system includes Pennsylvania’s “numerous bicycle and pedestrian facilities,” which will make it easier for bicycle/pedestrian projects to compete for highway funds.

A full analysis of how the entire funding package will increase over the next five years is here.

The biking and walking community put its oar in the water to help secure this legislative success. With your help, we fought hard for biking and walking to be included in the bill and to receive a minimum-floor amount of the multi-modal fund. This success is a result of years of coalition work with the Keystone Transportation Funding Coalition and the health groups that collaborated on Walk Ride PA.
Thank you to everyone who responded to our six “calls to action” over the past several months and to our partner Pennsylvania and national organizations for using their own networks to get the message out. In total, 3,371 actions were taken through our action center on this issue. Harrisburg heard loud and clear that Pennsylvanians want safer roads for biking and walking and are willing to use their voice to call for state investments in enhancing transportation choices.

If you want to celebrate the bill’s signing, there will be three bill signing events, one real and two symbolic, happening on Monday:

  • Live bill signing: State College, PA. Happening 9:30 AM at the VFW Post 9575 located along route 322, just west of the 322/144 intersection.
  • Montgomery County. Happening roughly 12:30 PM, exact location and date TBD (somewhere in SE MontCo; we’ll update this post when we know).
  • Pittsburgh. Happening 4 PM by the Liberty Bridge.
Posted in action alert, around the state, legislation | 4 Comments

Three Times a Charm: PA House passes a Transportation Funding Bill

In a remarkable reversal, the House Assembly passed the same transportation funding bill they had voted down just 24 hours earlier. Representative Micozzie’s version of the bill passed last night 104-95 providing an additional $2.3 billion annually for transportation.

You can read all about the drama at Philly.comMorning Call CBS3AP and AP and Politics PA.

The bill goes to the Senate today, another House vote tomorrow and, barring any further setbacks, could be signed by the Governor by the end of the week.

We thank our area legislators who voted Yes on this bill. It was a tough vote and we are grateful to those who chose to support a comprehensive transportation funding bill for Pennsylvania’s future. This bill provides $490 million that SEPTA desperately needs, recognizes biking and walking as a mode of transportation and creates a multi-modal fund with dedicated funding for biking and walking.

Given how many run-ups there were to potential votes over the last six months, we probably sent out more calls to action on this issue than any other in our history. Thanks to all of you who responded to the many action alerts in your inbox! Bicyclists were among the most vocal supporters of this bill. That helped get the bill passed — and earned the gratitude of the people who will now be deciding how best to spend our new transportation dollars. Thank you!

To look up who your House Rep is, click here.

Thanks to John Boyle for creating this map of the full 11/19 roll call vote on the Micozzie Amendment to HB 106
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