It’s a time of new beginnings, and hopes for a better future! Or at least, trying to be better than we are now, in ways that will fade along with our newly-renewed gym memberships. In no particular order:
- No more “SEPTA Key is Late” complaints. It’s very late. We all know it’s very late. We know, very approximately, why it’s late. But we’re now being promised a rollout date by April, which is not actually far enough away to be the indefinite future anymore, even under the worst circumstances imaginable. I’m not saying now is the time to get hype. I’m not even saying we shouldn’t all still be pissed at the accumulated delays. I’m just saying I’m tired of rehashing the “it’s late” narrative every week or so. Unless you are actually doing a longform deep dive on the dysfunctional relationship between the public sector and software development (i.e., you are Jim Saksa last month, or trying to one-up him), you are engaged in weaksauce, populist, pseudojournalistic pablum, and you should be ashamed of yourself.
- One Loading Zone per Block. Now.
So much of the unsafe or even inconvenient conditions on our streets comes from delivery vehicles who, in fairness, have few better options. And delivery vehicles are only going to proliferate as delivery services get cheaper and more widespread, and our neighborhood commercial corridors fill back in. It’s all well and good to swap door-zone bike lanes with parking-protected bike lanes, (and we should get on that, pronto), but that’s not going to fix the root cause of these problems, and it’s not going to do anything at all on the vast majority of streets that lack bike lanes.
- Fix the CMX-2 and CMX-2.5 zoning categories. Speaking of our neighborhood commercial corridors coming back, it would sure be nice if we had mixed use zoning categories for those corridors that were usable by-right. If you have an example of by-right new construction in either of these zones since the new zoning code came into effect, leave it in the comments, because that will be the first I hear of it ever happening.
- Signatures on the dotted line for University SEPTA. Bundling deeply discounted SEPTA (and Indego?) into tuition at colleges and universities is a win for everybody, we just need to finalize the details in time for the new SEPTA tariff scheduled to go into effect this July, and the next academic year starting in August. Even if, gods forbid, we miss that deadline, placeholder language should go into the tariff so that the program can kick off next winter instead of waiting an entire year. The time to move is now.
- An Open Streets PHL debut to do everyone proud. Ever since the Pope’s car-free security perimeter (peri-miter?) got everyone interested, a lot of people have been working to bring Open Streets to Philadelphia on a more regular (and better-planned, less disruptive) basis, starting sometime when the weather warms up. You might even recognize some of the names. Mayor Kenney is very much on board. So let’s do this.
- Street sweeping. Can we take the most basic step necessary to shed our “Filthadelphia” image? Even if it means people have to move their cars every once in a while? If New York (more crowded) and Baltimore (poorer) can figure out how, we can. Candidate Jim Kenney suggested an opt-out as political cover; I hope Mayor Jim Kenney doesn’t stick with that, but if he does, it should be the most restrictive opt-out possible, i.e. by-block, by supermajority petition, with an automatic sunset unless renewed by the same supermajority.
- Move the ball forward on badly-needed project planning. SEPTA trolley replacement. King of Prussia Rail. Broad Street Line to the Navy Yard. City Branch Transit. The Rail Park (going north, not west, and yes I will fight you, FOTRP). The 30th Street Station District. Reconfiguring the Northeast Corridor through North Philadelphia. None of them are getting done this year, but we can do more to make sure they get done as soon (and as inexpensively) as possible.
- Restripe Washington Ave already. The amount of gridlock and lack of leadership on this one is appalling. The PCPC-led design process resulted in a good plan for restriping. Follow-through on that plan didn’t happen largely due to lack of political leadership. So anarchy continues to reign on South Philadelphia’s emerging main street. If anybody dies on this street in the new year, you’re going to read some very unkind words here.
- Exclusive bus lanes on Roosevelt Boulevard, Market Street, and JFK. Super-wide streets with frequent bus service need bus lanes. Full stop.
- Hourly SEPTA service to Wilmington, already. The addition of one more train in each direction each weeknight serving Delaware’s largest city (and Philadelphia’s largest transit-accessible suburban job center) was a highlight of our December, but it was marred by the lack of a counterpart train on Saturdays that had been previously announced. Delaware needs to cut it out with this piecemeal nonsense and actually approve funding for hourly (or better) SEPTA service to Wilmington en bloc, as it’s the most cost-efficient transit in the First State, and will only attract more riders if those riders can rely on there actually being a convenient train when they need it, in both directions. I’m not terribly optimistic for anything more than incremental improvements, but I haven’t entirely run out of hope for more.
- Half-hourly service to Norristown and Chestnut Hill East. Jeff Kneuppel floated this in September 2014, as SEPTA’s deputy GM. He’s now in the big chair, and we’re still shivering with antici– (say it!) –pation. Or maybe just with the cold, waiting for trains that are still hourly.
- Light the Manayunk Bridge. Yes, I’m fully on board that the highest and best use of this iconic viaduct is as a multi-use trail. But multi-use involves being, er useful, and the Manayunk Bridge won’t be until we put lights on it (and the Cynwyd Heritage Trail) so that it can open early enough for commuters and stay open into the evening. Half a bridge (i.e. what we have now) is better than no bridge, but let’s not lose sight this project with the finish line tantalizingly in sight.
These are CMX-2 by-right: https://goo.gl/maps/BmS7NZdRfoG2 But they squeezed 4 stories in 38 feet to make it work.
There are a few other close examples in Fishtown, where they only needed an open area variance.
I’m still waiting for a developer to show the math for why the financials don’t work by-right.
Not jazzed about the “one loading zone per block” idea unless it is refined some. The main thing being that they should not be loading zones 24/7. That would be creating a whole lot of dead curb space that is only in use a tiny fraction of the time. The zones should be effective on an alternating basis 6 AM-noon on one block and noon-5 PM on the next, and there should be few if any loading zone restrictions on Saturdays when you want the maximum short term parking spaces for shoppers. When not a loading zone, the area should follow whatever parking limits are applicable to the rest of the block.
Then, if we are going to have these loading zones, double parking needs to be strictly enforced. That includes the Fedex and UPS guys. Period. I’m sure it will be no excuses for me to use the loading zone to run into a store “just for a second,” so it also should be no excuses for Fedex just dropping something off for “a second.”
The way to experiment with this idea would be to institute it first on streets with trolleys (Girard, Baltimore, Woodland) because they are disrupted the most by double parking.
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