More Disincentives for Driving Required for Philadelphia to Achieve 'Greenest' Status

Philadelphia's Mayor Michael Nutter has set a policy goal of becoming the "Greenest City in America," but the city's lack of progress in reducing automobile use is a troubling obstacle to such a lofty goal.

"In rather striking contrast with Pittsburgh and other big U.S. cities that have finally begun facing up to the role their auto-oriented planning and policy choices play in the climate challenge, Nutter’s Philadelphia is noteworthy for how little reckoning has taken place, particularly on City Council, and how ineffective policy “carrots” alone are at reducing car use," argues Jonathan Geeting.

Geeting cites a chart meant to tout the success of Philadelphia in reducing driving but finds only greenwashing.

Meanwhile, says Geeting, other cities are doing a much better job: "Over on the other side of Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh has been a national leader in cutting VMT while enjoying a substantially stronger economic recovery than Philadelphia and most of the nation, and Vancouver has overseen traffic declines of 20 percent on its major streets, even as its population has grown 4.5 percent since 2006…The difference is policy… city policy has largely avoided sticks to discourage driving."

Moreover, "[the] Nutter administration’s gains on bike-ped infrastructure are significant compared to the pre-Nutter status quo, and the increases in biking and walking shouldn’t be diminished. But there’s no getting around it: The impact has been weak in the face of Philadelphia’s impressive universe of car subsidies."

The post goes on to detail some of the possibilities for new parking policies and the politics preventing them from moving forward.

Full Story: There’s a Car-Sized Hole in Philly’s “Greenest City in America” Plan

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