Feet First Philly Supports Bill No. 190608

Mayor Kenney recently signed into law Bill No. 190608, an amendment to the city code, sponsored by Councilperson Helen Gym, which requires the mandatory public reporting of payouts from the City of Philadelphia. We learned earlier this year that the number of pedestrians injured on sidewalks over the last year is one of the largest sources of payouts from the city.

That is why Feet First Philly supports the Mandatory Reporting and Assessment of Payouts from Philadelphia City Government bill. This bill will provide greater transparency that will enable Philadelphia to make better sidewalk policy and maintenance decisions, thus improving walkability for everyone. Transparency around this issue will allow public officials, advocates, and residents to track progress towards reducing wasted taxpayer money spent on sidewalk injuries. Read our full testimony below:

PHILADELPHIA, PA (September 25,2019) – The Council is a member supported environmental advocacy organization whose mission is to protect everyone’s right to a healthy environment. Because transportation is the leading contributor of greenhouse gas emissions, the Council has a major focus on promoting sustainable forms of transportation, including walking. Feet First Philly is a pedestrian advocacy group sponsored by the Clean Air Council.  Our aims are to raise awareness of issues facing pedestrians in the City of Philadelphia, improve the pedestrian environment, protect the rights of pedestrians, and encourage walking as a mode of transportation, as well as for exercise and recreation.

News reports from earlier this year showed that pedestrian deaths in Pennsylvania were up 41% in the first half of 2018 over the same period in 2017. While this trend is alarming, a lack of pedestrian safety is nothing new. Based on the last 5 years of publicly available crash data, pedestrians are 4-5 times as likely to be killed in a crash than non-pedestrians. On state roads, this increases to 6.5 times as likely for pedestrians to die in crashes. While state roads and local roads make up about the same number crashes involving pedestrians, 75% of the ones that result in a fatal injury are on state roads. 

Clearly our roadways, particularly major state roads with higher traffic speeds, need to be made safer for pedestrians, but sidewalks themselves and other pedestrian-only spaces in our city should be safe. Philadelphia is known as a walkable city, which is great both for residents and for our visitors. The city’s grid system and dense layout make it ideal to walk for commuting, to get a cup of coffee, shop, or just to recreate. But, there is still work to do. We learned earlier this year that the number of pedestrians injured on sidewalks over the last year is one of the largest sources of payouts from the city. That is why Feet First Philly supports the Mandatory Reporting and Assessment of Payouts from Philadelphia City Government bill. This bill will provide greater transparency that will enable Philadelphia to make better sidewalk policy and maintenance decisions, thus improving walkability for everyone. Transparency around this issue will allow public officials, advocates, and residents to track progress towards reducing wasted tax payer money spent on sidewalk injuries.

Feet First Philly has received feedback from residents through regular surveys that broken, damaged, or missing sidewalks are major concerns for people. Similarly, in conducting walk audits – a data driven assessment of pedestrian safety at specific locations – with communities, sidewalk condition regularly comes up as a safety issue. Large sums of tax payer money being payed out due to people getting injured using the city’s sidewalks is important public information that this bill will make more available. The public deserves to have an open connection of how sidewalk condition affects taxpayer dollars, in order to have a more productive conversation about improving the current system of sidewalk maintenance.  

Feet First Philly and Clean Air Council strongly support Bill No. 190608. Thank you for the opportunity to submit testimony on behalf of this important bill.

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