Philly Mayor Tells Senate: Climate Bill Can Help Make Cities Greener

As the Senate opened its second round of climate change hearings
today, Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter delivered the urban case for
climate legislation, outlining an array of infrastructure improvements
and green reforms that would be made possible by federal action to
reduce carbon emissions.

ballard_green_streets2.jpgA sample image of Philadelphia’s proposed "green corridors." (Image: Lomo Civic Assn.)

Testifying on behalf of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Nutter singled out his city’s "complete streets"
policy as a key element of the local revitalization that has attracted
more private investment and new residents to Philadelphia:

the past five decades, Philadelphia lost jobs and residents. The pulls
that caused people to leave our city and others like it were driven in
part by government policies that valued highways over transit and new
tract housing over older row homes. But, in recent years, Philadelphia
has begun to witness a rebirth… people and jobs are moving in and
private investments are being made. People again view our walkable
neighborhoods and public transportation systems as assets to value and

Nutter also described a series of
sustainable infrastructure projects that his city is prepared to launch
once long-term funding is secured. The Senate climate bill sets up a
new block grant program that would provide that long-term funding,
directing money to metro areas for energy efficiency and conservation

Among the Philadelphia proposals mentioned by
Nutter were the city’s "green corridors" program — now in line for a
$6 million pilot phase — that would install landscaped sidewalks to
collect storm water as well as new energy-efficient streetlights and
traffic signals. A parallel effort, known as "green streets," would
increase tree cover and install curb bump-outs with sidewalk planters
to decrease heat-trapping.

"Our experience… is
characteristic of so many cities that are moving forward with these
investments," Nutter told the Senate environment committee, which will hear from more than two dozen witnesses today alone.

witnesses offered a counterpoint to the urban experience, focusing
almost exclusively on the high cost that regulating emissions would
impose on traditional fossil fuel-burning industries.

are in favor of green jobs but not at the expense of the heartland, of
red, white, and blue jobs," Bill Klesse, CEO of oil company Valero,
told the environment panel.

Today’s hearing can be followed live here, courtesy of the committee.



Philly Advocates Rally to Demand 30 Miles of Protected Bike Lanes

Philly residents can’t wait any longer for safe bikeways. Yesterday, at a rally in the central city, dozens of people gathered to demand 30 miles of protected bike lanes, and soon. Jim Saksa at Plan Philly reports on the campaign to ensure Mayor Jim Kenney makes good on his promise of better bike infrastructure: The online petition, drafted by urbanist political action […]

The Philadelphia Bike Story

Of U.S. cities with more than a million residents, the one where people bike the most is Philadelphia. In 2012, the U.S. Census estimated Philadelphia’s bicycle commute rate at 2.3 percent [PDF], higher than Chicago (1.6 percent) and New York (1.0 percent). It’s just about always been that way. That comes as a surprise to many people, since Philadelphia doesn’t have […]