Ex-Councilman and current mayoral contender Jim Kenney has been a prominent advocate for pedestrian safety for some time on City Council, and that came through in our Q&A with him this week. During our interview at his office, the topic that most seemed to animate Kenney was construction site sidewalk blockages.
As such, it seemed like a Vision Zero approach to pedestrian injuries and fatalities would be a natural Kenney issue. This idea has meant different things in different cities, but here in Philly, the Bicycle Coalition has been asking political candidates to commit to halving the number of injuries and fatalities over the next four years. When I asked Kenney for his thoughts on it though, he said he hadn't heard of it yet, but he did go on to express support for the idea in a broad sense.
Here's what he said:
"I’m not schooled on the whole process or briefed on the whole thing, but anything we can do for a multi-department approach to keeping people safer on our streets is certainly worthwhile."
"I believe in the philosophy that the sidewalk and the street is everyone’s, and there are rules of engagement that need to be followed. Obviously cutting down the number of pedestrian injuries and fatalities is certainly a worthwhile goal, though there’s many facets. There’s many departments that deal with that stuff."
A few days later, Vision Zero has officially made it into the Kenney campaign platform. The campaign unveiled a new website today featuring a number of official new issue positions, along with explanatory blurbs. Here's what they're committing to:
Philadelphia's walkability and bikeability is an incredible asset which contributes to a high-quality of life and makes our city a highly desirable place to live and work. As Mayor, Jim will adopt a Vision Zero goal for the City of Philadelphia, which accepts that no traffic fatality is inevitable - whether pedestrian, bicyclist or driver.
As Mayor, Jim will take a multi-faceted approach to implementing Vision Zero. This includes continuing and expanding on the work of the Nutter administration by increasing the number and safeness of bike lanes throughout our City. Jim will form a Vision Zero taskforce made up of stakeholders from local and state transportation agencies, public safety agencies, advocacy groups, local businesses and community members. This taskforce will be asked to create a "Vision Zero Action Plan" for Philadelphia so that we can ensure that no more lives are lost needlessly to a preventable traffic accident.
Other new Kenney policy positions of interest to PlanPhilly readers include a commitment to more neighborhood green spaces, extending the Broad Street line to the Navy Yard, and continuing existing plans for City Hall SEPTA station upgrades, improved bus shelters, and real-time transit info. There are also some mentions of the land bank, vacant property, and housing affordability issues, but they're less developed at this time.