Last Thursday representatives from Councilman Kenyatta Johnson's office met at City Hall with members of RUN215, The Schuylkill River Development Corporation, The Bicycle Coalition of Philadelphia, #OpenStreetsPHL, The Department of Parks & Recreation, the 9th District Police Department, The Streets Department, Students Run Philly Style, and more.
The goal of this meeting was to update members of the community & government on the city's progress in handling issues on the Schuylkill River Trail.
-----WHAT IS BEING DONE-----
1. INCREASED PATROLS.
- Police Officers from the 9th District have been put on more frequent patrols at peak hours.
- Parks & Rec have added Park Ranger patrols on the trail.
2. REPAIRS & LIGHTING.
- All lights directly above the trail (the round "can" ones) have been repaired from Lloyd Hall to South Street.
- Solutions are being looked at to repair the bulkheads (the ones along the river).
3. MILE MARKERS & SIGNAGE.
- The Schuylkill River Development Corp and Parks & Rec have been working diligently on a more effective trail marker system in the event of an emergency. These would be distributed every 250-300 feet on the trail from South Street to the Montgomery County Line, using data from other major cities & their best practices. The city has been EXTREMELY proactive in finding the most effective trail marking system, and we were shown a preliminary mock-up of what these would look like. All markers with be GIS integrated with emergency responders. We were all very, very happy with work being done. Unfortunately we do not have a timeline yet on when this will be completed, as information is still being compiled, and plans are being hammered out.
4. CRIME STATS.
- There has been one reported case of sexual harassment since the last meeting on Nov 5th. A group of teens smacked a women on the behind while riding past on bicycles. The incident was reported off-site 45 minutes later.
- There has been an increase in narcotics arrests on the trail.
- Crime on the trail overall has decreased since these patrols were put into action.
- The Bicycle Coalition, Students Run Philly Style, and RUN215 had made a point in both meetings that there is a need for positive community initiatives involving the trail, with a special emphasis on the young people using the SRT. This was met with overwhelming support by all members at the table.
- We will be working together over the coming months to find effective ways to engage with trail users. In the meantime, we welcome your contributions and suggestions as we work to begin some awesome, meaningful, and positive community oriented initiatives.
------WHAT YOU CAN DO-------
1. STAY VOCAL.
SEE SOMETHING? SAY SOMETHING!
- The Police Department relies on these reports to properly dispatch patrols. We live in the 5th largest city in the country, with various crimes occurring all over. The Police Department has a lot on their hands, and as citizens WE NEED TO REPORT CRIMES WHEN THEY HAPPEN. If a crime is serious enough to report to the police, then it is serious enough to WAIT for the officer to arrive so that the correct measures can be taken. This not only helps YOU, but other users of the trail.
- Has a sign been vandalized? Is there a dangerous pothole? Are the lights out again? REPORT THEM TO 311. I know it is frustrating, but these calls are taken seriously, and the data is collected. We all want more efficient ways to handle various problems, but again, if the issue is serious enough, the correct steps need to be taken.
- If you feel that something is NOT being handled, and you have taken all of the appropriate actions, GET A HOLD OF YOUR COUNCILPERSON. Trust me, they are approachable, receptive, and proactive. The initial meeting with Councilman Johnson's office (and each subsequent one) was the result of various members of the community reaching out. Here's the link: http://www.philadelphiacitycouncil.net
2. BE SMART. BE SAFE.
The Schuylkill River Trail is multi-use, which means that at any given point you are sharing with other runners, walkers, cyclists, an yes...the surrey bikes on the weekends. We need to be aware of our surroundings at all times.
- If you run/walk with headphones, KEEP THE VOLUME DOWN. We all want to be the stars in our own "Rocky" sequence when working out, but you need to consider that you're not on set. This is not a closed course.
- Don't hog the trail. Yes it is awesome to chat with the runners around you, but keep it two abreast if space allows. If the trail is too narrow, then you'll have to go single file until space opens up again. (This goes for tourists and walkers, too.)
- Bikers, CALL WHEN PASSING. Bikes are stealthy, wonderful machines. Most of the time, we can't hear them. Give those around you a ring, or an "On your left!" shout.
- Don't litter! Not only does this dirty the trail (think "broken window theory"), but those GU wrappers are slippery, and are a snapped tibia waiting to happen...
3. LOOK OUT FOR ONE ANOTHER.
We are all members of a community. If you see someone who needs assistance, provide it. It could be something as simple as giving directions to a lost tourist, or something as serious as helping someone who has been in an accident. The city can only do so much. It is OUR responsibility to uphold the standard that we demand from our elected officials. We depend on each other to support the changes that we want.
***RUN215 would like to thank the City of Philadelphia, especially the office of Councilman Johnson, for holding these meetings. We realize that these changes will not happen overnight, and pledge our support to provide help however we can.***
Author: Jon Lyons
Founder of RUN215. Fitness Activist. Father. Self-diagnosed running addict.