Looking Ahead to Greenworks 2014

Note: This blog is the first in a series of posts going behind the scenes of the process of producing the 2014 progress report for Greenworks Philadelphia.

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An in-progress look at laying out the 2014 Greenworks update.

With only two years left before the conclusion of Mayor Nutter’s second term in office, the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability (MOS) is preparing the fifth Greenworks progress report. This year, we want to give partners and stakeholders in Philadelphia and beyond a peek at how these progress reports are put together.

As a first step, our team is thinking about those areas where Philadelphia has made some of the biggest strides in the five Greenworks goal areas (energy, environment, equity, economy, and engagement) over the past year, and where the most exciting opportunities for 2014 will be. Here are a few we’ve considered:

  • Greenhouse Gas inventories and climate adaptation strategy:  Both MOS and the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) are continuing to track greenhouse gas emissions. Our office will release new data in 2014 highlighting some of the keys trends in emissions (and prime opportunities for emissions abatement). But it’s not enough to just monitor emissions. This spring, MOS will meet with agencies throughout city government to help draft an action plan to adapt Philadelphia’s critical infrastructure and services to a changing climate.
  • Municipal and citywide building benchmarking: MOS recently released a report on the energy usage of municipally-owned buildings for 2011, and results for large non-residential buildings 50,000 square feet or larger for both 2012 and 2013 energy and water usage will be released later this year. Benchmarking helps building owners and operators track their utility usage over time and compare that usage to a national average. Buildings can use this information to reduce their bills and their greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Food Policy Advisory Council: Thanks to the hard work of FPAC coordinator Hannah Chatterjee, the City’s commitment to improving access to healthy and farm-fresh food is stronger than ever. Hannah will be writing more about FPAC’s work on this blog in the coming weeks.
  • Bike Share: Our office is excited to be supporting the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities in the upcoming launch of the citywide bike share network. The City is currently considering several proposals for the program, and we hope to be writing much more about it in Greenworks 2014 (and using the bikes this fall!).
  • Waste Watchers:  At the 2013 Philadelphia Marathon, hundreds of volunteers once again gave their time to help divert waste to recycling while cheering on the city’s runners. MOS is excited to be expanding this program in 2014 thanks to a grant by the Bloomberg Foundation, which will help support Waste Watchers volunteers at six events between now and Spring 2015—including the 2014 Philadelphia Marathon.

What are you hoping to see MOS cover in Greenworks 2014? Respond below or tweet us @GreenworksPhila to share your thoughts.

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Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities Releases 5-Year Accomplishment Report

Report highlights improved infrastructure, sustainability practices, increased safety and grant money won.

Philadelphia, October 22, 2013 – The Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities (MOTU) released a report on the progress and accomplishments of the office during the past five years. The office, led by Deputy Mayor Rina Cutler, is charged with building a shared vision and coordinating decision-making among the energy and utility sectors as well as transportation and infrastructure sectors in order to save money and improve conditions throughout the City. Mayor Michael A. Nutter established MOTU after he assumed office in 2008.

“Because of this team’s great work during the past five years, the City has benefited from more than $90 million in grant funds to support our infrastructure. Philadelphians now have a better integrated transportation system that boasts new bridges, improved traffic signals and an expanded bike lane network,” said Mayor Nutter. “The City is a national model for green infrastructure. Philadelphia International Airport is embarking on a multi-billion expansion, and our strategic energy procurement program means that more of tax dollars are invested in City programs instead of utility bills.”

Among the highlights in the report are:
•Since 2008, five new airlines have announced service at Philadelphia International Airport and six new non-stop destinations have been added.
•In 2011, the Philadelphia Water Department and the Energy Office unveiled a 250-kilowatt, 1,000 panel solar system at the South East Water Pollution Control Plant, which provides reliable power directly to the facility.
•Traffic lights at approximately 2,400 intersections were retimed and more than 400 pedestrian countdown signals were installed since 2008. Crashes involving pedestrians are down 10 percent between 2008 and 2012.
•MOTU has helped secure more than $45 million in federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants for Philadelphia.

Deputy Mayor Rina Cutler noted, “Our office has made it safer to drive, bike and walk in Philadelphia. We have helped rewrite the guidelines for building city streets and we have forged lasting partnerships between a multitude of transportation agencies. This work can only be done because our office is set up to reach out across departments, across agendas and across constituencies. It is this coordinated vision which makes sure that the next generation of streets can manage stormwater and are safe whether you are a bicyclist, a driver or a pedestrian. It is this coordinated vision which helps invest more than $30 million dollars in traffic signals and buses to speed up transit service. And it is this coordinated vision which is helping build the airport of the future, one that will be a powerful engine of economic development.”

For five years, MOTU has improved transportation options so that Philadelphians can get wherever they are going, whether by foot, bike, car or transit. The office ensures that Philadelphia’s water, electricity and gas systems are of the highest caliber and that the City manages its energy use cost effectively. Working with partners from across government and the private and non-profit sectors, MOTU makes sure that the investments and plans that affect the city’s infrastructure are done with a shared vision of increased mobility and sustainability.

Mayor Nutter said, “The Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities is a professional, pragmatic and innovative part of City government. I could not be prouder of what the office has accomplished in the past five years and hope that MOTU has helped to pave the way for a more efficient and effective City government.

City of Philadelphia Provides Update on Bike Sharing in Philadelphia

Philadelphia, August 22, 2013 – Mayor Michael A. Nutter and Deputy Mayor for Transportation and Utilities Rina Cutler announced the completion of the Philadelphia Bike Share Strategic Business Plan and the release of a Request for Expressions of Interest to host or sponsor bike share stations.

The Philadelphia Bike Share Strategic Business Plan proposes an operationally viable and self-supporting size and scope for bike sharing in Philadelphia. Bike sharing is quickly becoming an integral part of transportation networks in cities around the country and around the world.  Implementing a top-quality system is imperative as Philadelphia strives to improve its status as a city of choice.

“This past Monday, the Philadelphia Inquirer’s editorial board wrote that bike sharing is just what the city needs and I couldn’t agree more.  This is a rare opportunity where $3 million City capital budget dollars can be leveraged with millions more of state and federal transportation funds and private funds to create a new form of convenient, affordable and healthy public transportation,” said Mayor Nutter.

The program is expected to have a capital cost between $10-15 million, which will be raised from state and federal transportation grants as well as private sponsors.  This system is not anticipated to require any public operating subsidy.

In Philadelphia, the plan calls for a system of 150 to 200 bike sharing stations and 1,500 to 2,000 bikes that will serve an area that stretches from the Delaware River into West Philadelphia, from the Navy Yard through Center City to beyond Temple University’s main campus in North Philadelphia. The system is projected to generate nearly two million trips per year by residents, commuters, students and visitors.

Bike sharing helps connect residents, commuters and visitors to more of Philadelphia’s businesses, institutions and attractions and provides a clear benefit to the hosts of stations as well as the thousands of users expected each day.  Bike sharing will be another incentive to choose Philadelphia as a place to live, to work and enjoy.  It can also provide a healthy and affordable transportation alternative to a diverse group of City residents.

“We’ve seen bike sharing work amazingly well in other cities, but we know that we have to tailor our system to meet the needs of Philadelphians, which is why I’m asking everyone to take some time to think about where they’d like to see bike sharing in their neighborhoods or workplaces,” said Deputy Mayor Cutler, as she urged Philadelphians to go to www.phila.gov/bikeshare and put their preferred bike share locations on the map.

“I’ve been impressed with the seriousness with which the City is approaching launching a bike sharing system. I expect the system will be operationally self-sufficient and leverage a small City investment to have a large impact,” said Robert Victor Comcast’s Senior Vice President of Strategic and Financial Planning.

Businesses and property owners who recognize the advantages of being linked directly to this new system at their locations are urged to respond to the City’s request for letters of interest. These non-binding expressions of interest will serve a valuable function in helping the City plan for implementation and of a world class bike sharing system to Philadelphia. The City is looking for partners at several levels:

  • Station sponsors: Businesses, property owners and institutions who decide to underwrite stations on or near their property will be assured placement when the system rolls out in late summer 2014.
  • Station hosts: Property owners willing to locate bike sharing stations on or near their property will be considered for deployment in the early stages of bike sharing.

Hosts and sponsors will be indemnified from all liability by the system operator who will manage and operate the system.  The City will be releasing an RFP for a firm to perform this service in the early fall.

Many of the major real estate holders in the city have already confirmed their intention to support bike sharing stations.  According to Jerry Sweeney, CEO of Brandywine Property Trust, “Sponsoring and hosting a bike sharing stations at the Cira Centre and our other properties in Philadelphia is an obvious business decision. Property owners who are serious about providing transportation options and quality amenities to their tenants are going to support bike share.”

Bill Hankowsky, CEO of Liberty Property Trust commented, “Bike Sharing is an exciting program that is already creating a new dynamism in some of the world’s greatest cities. Many of our tenants from The Navy Yard to Comcast Center have embraced bike commuting and many more are poised to take advantage of this new transportation option.”

“For our students, faculty and staff, bikes share is sure to become an important transportation option, which is why we expect Penn to be home to several stations,” said Penn Vice President for Business Services Marie Witt.

GlaxoSmithKline enthusiastically supports efforts to bring a world-class bike sharing system to Philadelphia.  “Bike sharing is a natural fit for the city and GSK, as it is completely in line with our goal of building healthy communities everywhere we work and live,” said Michael Fleming, Head, Corporate Engagement.  “An accessible, easy-to-use bike sharing program will greatly enhance transportation choices for residents, students, workers and visitors to our area. These improvements will certainly benefit our employees, and we look forward to working with the City of Philadelphia to finalize the details of a bike sharing station installation that can support the growing, thriving healthy community at The Navy Yard.”

“A community bike sharing could transform not only how people travel in Philadelphia, but also how they exercise and stay well,” said Independence Blue Cross President and CEO, Daniel J. Hilferty. “For example, for people struggling with depression or obesity, taking active transportation — by riding a bike through a bike sharing system — could help tackle these important health challenges.”

“We believe that Bike Sharing in Philadelphia has a unique opportunity to bring an inexpensive and flexible form of transportation to the people that really need that.  More than half of all Philadelphians who live below the poverty line will live within walking distance of a bike share station. The Bicycle Coalition is committed to helping the City reach out into the communities and help make sure that nobody is left out from this great new form of transportation,” said Alex Doty, Executive Director of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia.

Russell Meddin of Bike Share Philadelphia and member of the Bike Share Advisory Group said, “The progress made by the City and the Bike Share Advisory Group has positioned Philadelphia to truly have a chance at creating one of the most innovative bike share programs in the United States. Now is the time for Philadelphia’s businesses and institutions to partner with the City in this 21st century endeavor.”

Information on how to recommend a bike sharing site for your neighborhood, and how to become a station host or sponsor for a bike sharing station can be found at the City of Philadelphia’s website www.phila.gov/bikeshare, which will be the home for all official information on bike sharing in Philadelphia.

The Business Plan was completed by Toole Design and Four Square Integrated Transportation Planning in cooperation with the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission and a business advisory group from the private sector including representatives from Comcast, Glaxo Smith Klein, Independence Blue Cross, Liberty Properties Trust and the University of Pennsylvania.  Funding for this effort was provided by the William Penn Foundation.

Mayor Nutter and Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Open City’s Only Bike Rental Service In Fairmount Park

Philadelphia, June 12, 2012 – Mayor Michael A. Nutter, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation and the Fairmount Park Conservancy hosted a grand opening ceremony for Wheel Fun Rentals, the only bike rental service in the city’s park system. Wheel Fun Rentals, America’s premier recreation rental company, is working with Philadelphia Parks & Recreation to offer a unique variety of cycles, including locally based Fuji hybrid two-wheels, surrey bikes, tandem bikes, deuce coupe bikes and Segways. Residents and visitors can access Wheel Fun Rentals in three locations throughout the Fairmount Park system: Lloyd Hall on Boathouse Row, Love Park and the Bathey House/Trolley Car Café in East Falls.

“Philadelphia loves our cyclists and we want to encourage as many as possible – novice or expert – to come and experience the amenities we offer to the cycling community,” said Mayor Nutter. “In addition to installing more than three hundred and fifty new bike racks across the city and continuing to add bike lanes to our streets, we are excited to welcome Wheel Fun Rentals to the Fairmount Park system. Cycling is a great way to run errands, tour the city or just recreate in the park; all of which help add a little physical activity into busy schedules. I encourage every Philadelphian to take advantage of the rental possibilities offered by Wheel Fun.”

Proceeds from Wheel Fun Rentals benefit Philadelphia’s parks. Through concession fees, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation anticipates that the service will bring in $50,000 annually that will go toward park and trail renovations and projects along the Schuylkill River Trail and Kelly drive as well as other projects led by Philadelphia Parks & Recreation and the Fairmount Park Conservancy.

“This partnership with Wheel Fun Rentals and the Fairmount Park Conservancy will provide Philadelphians and visitors with a variety of fun and unique ways to experience our beautiful park system,” said Deputy Mayor for Environmental and Community Resources, Michael DiBerardinis. “The partnership has also created an additional revenue stream, which will be used to maintain our park system”

Wheel Fun Rentals is providing nearly a dozen jobs to local residents and summer jobs for students, tying into the Mayor’s Fun Safe Philly Summer initiative. The company is employing teens from the Neighborhood Bike Works program, a local nonprofit that aims to increase opportunities for urban youth in underserved neighborhoods in greater Philadelphia by offering educational, recreational, and career-building opportunities through bicycling. The teens will be able to apply what they learn through the Neighborhood Bike Works program in their jobs at Wheel Fun Rentals. Wheel Fun Rentals also employs students with the Philadelphia City Rowing program.

“Wheel Fun Rentals is very excited about the opportunity to bring our unique brand of family fun to Philadelphia visitors of all ages,” said Mark Soto, Wheel Fun Rentals Director of Operations. “We specialize in providing affordable outdoor recreation that brings people and families together. We also look to be an active part of the local community through our alliances with such organizations as Neighborhood Bike Works and Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Southeastern Pennsylvania.”

Wheel Fun Rentals is open seven days a week. Summer hours (June-Labor Day) are 9 a.m. to sunset. In the fall (Labor Day-October), Wheel Fun Rentals will be open Saturday, Sunday and holidays from 10 a.m. to sunset. Wheel Fun Rentals inventory and pricing includes:
Cruiser Bikes: $10/hour $25/half day $32/day
City Bikes: $12/hour $30/half day $38/day
Tandems – Multi Speed: $15/hour $40/half day $50/day
Kids Bikes: $6/hour $15/half day $20/day
Trail-a-Bikes: $6/hour $15/half day $20/day
Kid Trailer: $10/hour $25/half day $32/day
Single Surrey: $20/hour
Double Surrey: $30/hour
Deuce Coupe: $20/hour
Pricing for Segway tours can be found here: http://philadelphia.segwaytoursbywheelfun.com/

Residents and visitors can enjoy self-guided bike tours of Old City Philadelphia and Fairmount Park. The self-guided bike tours include a route map, points of interest, historical information, helmet and lock. The Old City Tour is 11.5 miles round trip and will take bikers past numerous museums, lavish gardens and intricate architecture and many landmarks including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, The U.S. Mint., Independence State Park, Penn’s Landing and The Betsy Ross House. The Fairmount Park Tour is 11.5 miles round trip and will take bikers past Lemon Hill Mansion, the Philadelphia Zoo, the Please Touch Museum and more.

With more than 100 rental outlets across the United States, Wheel Fun Rentals has been offering clean, healthy family fun and affordable outdoor recreation to nearly 1.5 million customers annually for more than 20 years. Philadelphia is the company’s first foray into the Northeast. Wheel Fun Rentals is the only recreational cycling opportunity in Philadelphia’s park system. For more information about Wheel Fun Rentals, please visit http://www.wheelfunrentals.com/listlocations/176.

Mayor Nutter, Elected Officials Kickoff Next Phase of Development for Manayunk Bridge

Philadelphia, October 20, 2011 – Mayor Michael A. Nutter, Montgomery County Commissioners Jim Matthews and Joe Hoeffel, and Lower Merion Commissioners Elizabeth S. Rogan and Brian Gordon met for a ceremonial “Handshake Across the River” on the Manayunk Bridge to officially launch a project that will link the communities via a recreational trail across the Schuylkill River. The Manayunk Bridge will use a bike and pedestrian trial to connect the Ivy Ridge Trail in Philadelphia with the Cynwyd Heritage Trail in Lower Merion.

“The Manayunk Bridge serves as a bright example of regional partners and community groups collaborating to achieve something great,” said Mayor Nutter. “I am excited for this project because it strengthens the connection between Philadelphia and Montgomery counties, encourages exercise and recreation, and enables all residents to enjoy the beautiful landscape that we share.”

When finished, a walking and bicycling trail across the iconic Manayunk Bridge will connect Lower Merion Township’s recently completed Cynwyd Heritage Trail with Dupont and High Streets in Manayunk. From there, it’s just a short walk to the shops and restaurants of historic downtown Manayunk.

“When the Mayor first talked about establishing the Metropolitan Caucus, we were looking for ways to partner with our neighbors and this project was one of the first to come up,” Chairman Matthews said. “I’m thrilled to see it finally get underway. It will be an absolutely gorgeous gateway between our communities.”

“Today we shake hands in a ceremonial fashion, but it symbolizes how the Township, Montgomery County and the City of Philadelphia have collaborated to fulfill a vision that, as individual entities, we couldn’t have accomplished,” Board President Rogan said.

This landmark project is only possible through a truly cooperative effort. In addition to the City, County and Township, partners include SEPTA, the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, Manayunk Development Corporation, the William Penn Foundation, the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

“SEPTA is pleased to be involved in a partnership that can create a new use for an old, transit and iconic asset within the region,” said Joseph M. Casey, General Manager of SEPTA, which owns the bridge.

Future phases will extend the trail to the Ivy Ridge Station and beyond, eventually connecting to the Schuylkill River Trail at Shawmont Avenue.

About the Metropolitan Caucus
The Metropolitan Caucus is composed of a group of elected leaders from Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties. Established in March of 2009, the Metropolitan Caucus focuses on issues of common interest among the five counties.

Rina Cutler Named 2011 Public Works Leader of the Year by American City and County Magazine

Philadelphia, September 15, 2011 – Deputy Mayor for Transportation and Public Utilities Rina Cutler has been named the 2011 Public Works Leader of the Year by Penton’s American City and County Magazine. This award is given annually to those who demonstrate outstanding leadership in public works. Deputy Mayor Cutler has been instrumental in the completion of the South Street Bridge, the expansion of Philadelphia’s green infrastructure, the addition of bike lanes, and the increase in recycling rates, according to the magazine’s release.

“I could not be more proud of Deputy Mayor Rina Cutler,” said Mayor Michael A. Nutter. “The City is lucky to have such a knowledgeable, visionary and passionate individual leading Philadelphia’s transportation, infrastructure and greening efforts. Deputy Mayor Cutler understands how to get things done. She has helped transform Philadelphia into a more beautiful city while reducing costs and improving efficiency in her departments.”

Deputy Mayor Cutler added, “I am honored to be recognized as the Public Works Leader of the year by American City and County Magazine. The work we are doing to make Philadelphia a more livable, sustainable and economically dynamic city would not be possible without the leadership of Mayor Nutter, our Streets and Water commissioners, our Airport CEO and the tireless work of thousands of City employees. We have done some amazing work in the last several years including the South Street Bridge, a strong focus on green infrastructure, expanding the bike lane network, launching an airport capacity enhancement program and a spectacular gateway mural at the Philadelphia International Airport. We will continue to work hard at being innovative and meeting the needs of Philadelphians.”

Deputy Mayor Cutler was appointed to the job by Mayor Michael Nutter in March, 2008. She is responsible for the coordination and oversight of all transportation functions in the City of Philadelphia. In addition, Ms. Cutler oversees the operations of a variety of City agencies including the Streets Department, the Philadelphia Water Department, the Philadelphia International Airport, and the City’s interests with a variety of transportation agencies including SEPTA, the Philadelphia Parking Authority, the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission and the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority.

Prior to returning to Philadelphia, Ms. Cutler was the Deputy Secretary for Administration at PennDOT since 2003. In addition, Ms. Cutler served for almost 2 years as the Acting District Executive at PennDOT for the 5 county Philadelphia region. Her prior experience includes Transportation Commissioner for the City of Boston, the Director of Parking and Traffic for the City of San Francisco and the Executive Director of the Philadelphia Parking Authority.

The subscribers of American City & County submit nominations for the Public Works Leader of the Year Award. The magazine’s editorial staff selects the award’s recipient each year.

American City & County has been the voice of state and local governments since 1909. The magazine serves a nationwide audience of city, county and state officials who are charged with developing and implementing local government policy, programs, and projects. American City & County is published monthly by Penton. For more information about the magazine, visit http://www.americancityandcounty.com

Mayor Nutter Breaks Ground on Fairmount Bikeway Improvement Project

Philadelphia, March 14, 2011- Mayor Michael A. Nutter announced the groundbreaking of the Fairmount Bikeway Improvement Project. Improvements to the Fairmount Bikeway trail, which connects Kelly Drive to the lower Wissahickon and the Schuylkill River Trail to Valley Forge, are expected to be completed by June, 2011.

“Thousands of recreation enthusiasts and commuters use Philadelphia’s trails every day and we want to continue to encourage their healthy lifestyle habits,” said Mayor Nutter. “These improvements are especially important, as the City continues to think innovatively about reducing our carbon footprint. We thank all of our partners for their support of this project.”

Improvements will include a widening of the existing recreation path to improve access along the Schuylkill Trail, upgrades to the existing parking area and safety enhancements that will separate pedestrians and bicyclists from automobile traffic that accesses the parking lot. The $1.1 million project is being funded with a $500,000 grant from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, a $400,000 Federal Highway Transportation Enhancement Grant that was provided from PennDOT and $200,000 in funding from the William Penn Foundation, provided through the Schuylkill River Greenway Association.

“The Fairmount Bikeway from Falls Bridge to Ridge Avenue is a key link in both Fairmount Park’s multi-use recreational trail system and the larger Schuylkill River Trail, which will ultimately connect Philadelphia to Pottsville in Schuylkill County via a multi-use trail extending the entire length of the river—a distance of approximately 130 miles,” said Parks & Recreation Commissioner Michael DiBerardinis.