by Alex Mulcahy
Every day when I bike home from work, I pause at the corner of 11th and Spruce and look at the all-white "ghost" bike placed there to memorialize Emily Fredericks, who lost her life while biking at that intersection. It's a place where I momentarily reflect on the fragility of life and remind myself not to take chances, to keep cool and be patient, no matter what.
Despite my heightened awareness, I had a close call at that very location. I was on the right side of an SUV that abruptly turned right. As I peddled faster to get out of the way of the vehicle, I could hear shrieks from bystanders sitting outside Greenstreet Coffee. Luckily for them, for me, they were not witnesses to an accident.
This happened on a street where there is a bike lane, and no laws were broken by either the motorist or me. This speaks to the fact that, while great advancements have been made to our city's bike infrastructure, there is much more that can be, and must be, done to protect cyclists.
According to the survey of candidates by The Philadelphia Inquirer, Jannie Blackwell, my representative in the 3rd District, is one of the few who do not want to see an expansion of bike lanes.
There have been ethical breaches under Blackwell's leadership, and misuse of councilmanic prerogative, which I experienced firsthand when her administration intentionally tried to scuttle the establishment of two preschools in a beautiful Frank Furness designed church that was abandoned and had been scheduled for demolition. It was an ugly fight, and you can read the story here.
Councilmanic prerogative is problematic and should be dismantled. But until it is, the character of candidates is extremely important. That’s why I am positively thrilled that Jamie Gauthier is running for City Council in the 3rd District. I've had the pleasure of working with her multiple times when she was the executive director at the Sustainable Business Network. She is smart, kind and has integrity—exactly the kind of person you want entrusted with the power City Council members wield.
Remember to vote at the primary on May 21.