On February 23, 2023, over 20 national, state and regional organizations together called on Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro to take concrete actions to revitalize communities—especially their downtowns—across the state by accelerate “active transportation” solutions.
“Pennsylvania’s core communities are at their best when we provide options for all. Our downtown Main Street districts and neighborhood Elm Street districts thrive when pedestrians of all ages and mobilities feel safe to explore our communities,” said Julie Fitzpatrick, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Downtown Center.
PDC is the only statewide nonprofit dedicated solely to the revitalization of Pennsylvania’s core communities.
“And, when we provide recreational and commuting options for our bicyclists and afford other transit options to our residents and workforce, we’re supporting places where people chose to live,” she added.
According to the organizations leading the effort, the pace of active transportation infrastructure development in Pennsylvania is slow, and not prioritized by any state agency, regardless of significant consequences for pedestrians and bicyclists who are disproportionately killed and severely injured in traffic crashes each year.
The letter addressed to the governor states that trail and active transportation networks are “essential infrastructure for equitably addressing the most pressing issues facing Pennsylvania: economic development, climate resiliency, mobility, and bicyclist and pedestrian safety.”
To accelerate much-needed trail and active transportation networks, advocates are urging Governor Shapiro to:
- Issue an Executive Order articulating how Pennsylvania’s active transportation networks advance the Governor’s vision for infrastructure, and call for the prioritization of active transportation networks as part of the state’s infrastructure planning.
- Commit to a dedicated funding program and a new agency bureau for planning, building and maintaining active transportation networks.
- Build on past and ongoing efforts to enhance inter-agency cooperation on active transportation, like the current Safe Routes to Parks State Accelerator Program, by creating an inter-agency plus stakeholder task force, that includes PA Departments of Transportation, Health, Community & Economic Development, Conservation & Natural Resources, Environmental Protection, and Aging that would:
- Develop an Active Transportation Network Implementation Plan (the Plan) by December 2023 that details how state programs and budgets will be structured, coordinated and integrated to both implement the 2019 Active Transportation Plan and to advance the Governor’s vision for Pennsylvania’s active transportation networks.
- Recommend new legislation, funding sources, reorganized and new agency structures, and policies to achieve the Plan by December 2023.
- Report to the Governor annually on progress being made by state agencies on the Active Transportation Network Implementation Plan such as the number and scope of capital projects funded, miles of Active Transportation infrastructure constructed and the number of people served and their counties.
“This is a moment of opportunity,” said Samantha Pearson, Healthy Communities Program Manager with the Pennsylvania Downtown Center.
“There is funding available which we can effectively multiply by applying it to an area of such great need and great potential return. The societal benefits that accrue from investments in active transportation infrastructure extend across so many arenas, touching on the economy, health, equity, and the environment. Mobility for all means an economy that works for everyone,” she continued.
Primarily through use of the National Main Street Center’s Refreshed Main Street Approach®, PDC provides outreach, technical assistance, and educational services in order to assist communities in revitalizing their central business districts and surrounding residential neighborhoods.