Candidate: Beth Finn, At-Large Candidate
This questionnaire was sent to every candidate no matter the party affiliation. Feet First Philly does not endorse any particular candidate and provides the responses to the public for informational purposes only.
If elected, what would you do to promote walking in Philadelphia?
We need more protected bike lanes, pedestrian walkways, and raised crosswalks at intersections to reduce traffic and emissions, and increase public safety, which encourages people to walk and not drive.
One way to promote walking in Philadelphia is to increase access to public transportation. In order to do this, we must redraw our bus routes. This must be done in a way that maximizes efficiency and convenience for Philadelphians who take public transportation and encourages more Philadelphians to leave their cars at home. City planners, not politicians, must have authority over this project. The more public transportation access we have throughout the city for everyone, the more likely it is that people are going to walk. Additionally, accessible and affordable public transportation allows people to engage fully in their communities. Low-income monthly transit passes for qualifying residents will also ensure that more of our citizens will be walking around the city.
If elected what would you do to ensure that all Philadelphians can reach their destination safely?
Pedestrian-related deaths account for almost 50% of the fatalities in our city. Considering that walking in the city is the cheapest way to reduce carbon emissions and traffic congestion, we must do more to protect pedestrians. Everyone has the right to be safe en route to their destination whether traveling via public transportation, bicycle, or on foot.
When elected, I will focus on three things:
1. Prioritize city legislation. I will work with the rest of City Council and the Mayor’s office to draft legislation that prioritizes safety improvements by modifying street configuration, road signage, and markings.
2. Get PennDOT as a Vision Zero partner. We can only achieve Vision Zero when we work with state officials. Philadelphians are six times more likely to be killed or severely injured on a PennDOT street. More than half of Philadelphia’s high-injury streets are operated by PennDOT. We must work together.
3. Update the Philadelphia Streets Department standards. This is a no-brainer: this department is responsible for our city streets and sidewalks and it must have a pedestrian-first approach in its standard practices.
Vision Zero and Pedestrian Traffic Deaths
Do you support VisionZero?
How would you improve the walkability of our neighborhoods through Vision Zero?
One way to improve the walkability in our neighborhoods is to decrease the speed limit and install speed cameras, especially on streets with problems of high traffic and in school zones, making these spaces safer for pedestrians. Also, making sure that our sidewalks are smooth and clear of obstructions ensures it is easier for residents to move around freely.
According to an NBC10 report, there are 40 hit-and-runs per day, creating an epidemic in Philadelphia. In 2018, there were over 100 traffic fatalities in Philadelphia. In your view, what can you, as an elected official, do about this epidemic?
Changing the way we design our public spaces can actually change the way drivers drive in a space. By adding a median on large 2-way streets or adding more trees onto our sidewalks, drivers will pay attention to more around them and they will slow down. Slower drivers who are paying more attention are less likely to be distracted and cause an accident.
If elected, what would you do to ensure adequate sidewalk repair and crosswalk maintenance?
Our city budget is our list of priorities. One of my top priorities on City Council is to focus on good government and part of that is prioritizing smooth and clean roads and sidewalks. This includes repairs to the streets and sidewalks that are already crumbling and cracking as well as regular maintenance to ensure we don’t end up with more emergencies due to our crumbling infrastructure. The same type of maintenance should be instituted for our pedestrian crosswalks so every pedestrian is ensured safety when they cross the street.
If elected, what would you do to ensure our more vulnerable citizens could adequately and safely get around?
We need to extend the time allocated for pedestrians to cross the street. This gives our elderly and disabled sufficient time to get safely across. Protected bike lanes serve a dual purpose to also protect people who are wheelchair-bound. We need to increase the number of protected bike lanes significantly.
If elected, what would you do to end illegal sidewalk and crosswalk parking in Philadelphia?
City Council must utilize a dual-pronged approach: an educational initiative and increased enforcement.
The educational initiative needs to be an awareness campaign that educates drivers on federal law (ADA Title II states that cities are required to have accessible crossings). The campaign must also highlight personal responsibility that illustrates the unseen hardships drivers create for fellow residents that need special access designs.
The increased parking enforcement will disincentivize drivers choosing to block accessible crossings. Allowing this problem to persist may result in lawsuits, potentially costing the city far more than simply enforcing current law. This is about enforcement of federal law designed to advocate for and protect all residents.
If elected, what would you do to ensure developers provide a safe walking & crossing area for pedestrians to use in all neighborhoods?
Like so many concerns in our City, this is a matter of having enough enforcement to make sure people are following the law. We must put money into hiring enough staff to enforce the laws we have already enacted rather than continuing to try to put a band-aid on the situation. If developers are not following the law requiring them to provide safe walking and crossing areas for pedestrians, we must charge them (and then collect) the appropriate fines.
Where is your favorite place in Philadelphia to walk and what makes it so great?
I enjoy walking a loop around the four squares (Washington Square, Franklin Square, Logan Circle, and Rittenhouse Square) that made up the original boundaries of Philadelphia. Thinking about the history of our City while seeing all the things it’s becoming is such a powerful reminder of our potential.