A parking protected bike lane on E Ohio St in the Northside, a PennDOT owned road
Help update Pennsylvania’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan
Did you know that PennDOT owns several roads and bridges that run directly through the City?
Did you know that since 2004, over 70% (5 out of 7) of the bicycle fatalities within the City of Pittsburgh, as well as most of the bicycle fatalities in Allegheny County occurred on PennDOT owned roads?
Did you know that since the last Pennsylvania Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan in 2007, the number of pedestrian fatalities across Pennsylvania has increased, while number of bicycle fatalities have decreased (despite an increase in riders)?
Well, this is our once a decade opportunity to influence how PennDOT plans for Pennsylvania’s bicyclists and pedestrians.
PennDOT will be developing their Pennsylvania Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan during 2018, the first update to the plan since 2007.
The plan intends to outline a vision and framework for improving conditions for walking and bicycling across Pennsylvania, “most notably for those Pennsylvanians who walk and bicycle out of necessity rather than for leisure and recreation.”
The Master Plan will also set goals and strategies to increase the number of people walking and bicycling.
How did PennDOT do on their 2007 goals?
Pennsylvania ranks 12th according to the 2017 League of American Bicyclists’ Bike-Friendly State Ranking. As outlined in Pennsylvania’s Bike-Friendly Report Card, the state needs the most improvement on the following: driver education, laws that regulate driver behavior, data collection for people who bike and walk, Complete Streets Policies, and funding.
In the 2007 plan, the department set two broad goals:
a) Double the percentage of trips by foot and bicycle by the year 2015. The exact percentages will be developed with the implementation of this plan.
b) Reduce the number of fatalities among bicyclists and pedestrians to a level corresponding to the national highway motor vehicle fatality rate reduction goal of 29%.
Double the percentage of trips by foot and bicycle by the year 2015
As far as we know, the Department did not develop any way to track trips by foot or by bike. The one indicator that we do have, is the US Census’ American Community Survey. While the survey does not track total trips, it does track the primary way that people get to work. For an in depth look into Pittsburgh’s ACS statistics, see our annual blog post.
According to this metric, the percentage of Pennsylvanians who bike to work actually did nearly double. For the sake of comparison, in Pittsburgh, we more than tripled the number of bike commuters in the same time period.
Walkers, however, in Pennsylvania stayed about the same, with a slight drop locally in Pittsburgh.
Reduce the number of fatalities among bicyclists and pedestrians to a level corresponding to the national highway motor vehicle fatality rate reduction goal of 29%.
Pennsylvania sees 5.2 fatalities per 10K commuters – the 18th safest state in the nation. According to our 2016 Report on Bicycling and Pedestrian Safety, while only 6% of all reported crashes within the City of Pittsburgh involve people on foot, a full 25% of the City’s traffic fatalities are pedestrians.
While total biking fatalities remained about the same, if you consider that there was an increase in the number of people riding bikes, the bicycle fatality rate actually went down in Pennsylvania.
The outlook, however, is not so good for pedestrians. Not only did the number of walkers remain about the same, the total pedestrian fatalities went up.
While the results are a good sign for bikes, it’s important to realize that Pennsylvania municipalities, have made much progress on improving their roads for bicycling, while state roads, ie. the ones that PennDOT has direct control of, remain dangerous for people on two wheels.
How to provide feedback
PennDOT has created a website portal for the Plan to gather feedback, provide updates and notifications for public engagement opportunities.
First and foremost, please take the survey. The survey takes about 10 minutes to complete, and the final question is open ended, leaving you the opportunity to provide additional feedback. We’ve outlined some talking points below.
The final question of the survey is open ended. Here are some useful talking points.
- Staff up! – District 11 (Allegheny County’s District) needs a full time Bike-Ped Coordinator.
- Policy – Adopt a statewide Complete Streets Policy and a Vision Zero goal with a target date.
- Goal of reducing injuries – The previous plan only had a goal of reducing fatalities by 29% over ten years. In addition to a goal of eliminating fatalities, the new plan should also include a goal of reducing injuries.
- Clear Benchmark, Implementation, and Performance Measures – We need to benchmark how Pennsylvania is doing, followed by clear and bold performance measures and how they plan to get it done.
- Public Input – Establish a meaningful public input process into PennDOT Connects (review of capital projects), and for reviewing annual resurfacing plans to ensure that bike-ped facilities are incorporated into the design
- Autonomous Vehicles – Ensure bicyclists and pedestrians are prioritized in AV regulations and include a member in Pa’s Autonomous Vehicle Task Force
- Legislation – Advance best practice legislation seen around the country. This includes legislation such as the “Idaho Stop” (stop on red; yield on stop), vulnerable user laws, robust cell phone bans, allowing local municipalities to use radar speed enforcement, and providing flexibility in design (such as allowing for parking protected bike lanes)
- Funding – Reduce burdensome restrictions, such as the 30% match for the MultiModal Fund, and increase available sources so that municipalities can propose more bike-ped projects
- Data Collection – None of these goals are possible without collecting better data.
Attend an upcoming webinar
PennDOT plans to host several webinars over the course of the planning process.
They dates will be announced on their website, and we’ll be sure to post reminders.
Check out PennDOT’s video on the process
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