Callahan not bursting the bridge’s balloon, just blowing it up slower

Latest in a series of posts on the pedestrian bridge

Bruce Haines is a Lehigh graduate who returned to Bethlehem after a 35-year career at USSteel. He put together a 12-member Partnership to rescue the Hotel Bethlehem from bankruptcy in 1998 and lives in the historic district.

Gadfly:

I think Councilman Callahan made a valid point about the timing of funding this [pedestrian/bicycle bridge] project.

He was clear that he generally supported this project, but at this point there were likely more urgent needs for the $40,000.

He also pointed out that the matching funds would likely still be there next year as well so that this project could be funded when times are better.

Businesses are deferring expenditures & reallocating scarce funding during this period.

Government should also be doing the same thing.

In this particular case, I think Mr. Callahan was not being unreasonable.

He was not bursting the balloon for the bridge but only blowing it up a little slower than originally planned to address more critical needs.

I don’t think he got a fair hearing quite frankly from his fellow council members.

Bruce

Pedestrian bridge politics

Latest in a series of posts on the pedestrian bridge

Bud Hackett is a Bethlehem resident who raised 4 kids in the City. He recently became very interested in quality of life issues in the city and hopes to offer a balance to the approach City Council is taking.

ref: The budget dance (3): the pedestrian/bicycle bridge

Gadfly:

It is all about who is pandering to which constituency.

It would appear that Mr. Reynolds is looking for votes from the liberal democrats that want the City to give them a free $4-5 million bike and walk bridge across the river.

Who doesn’t want a “free bridge”?

Just look at the list of people and organizations sending letters of support for the project. A treasure trove of progressive voters.

Mr. Callahan seems to want to distinguish himself as a democrat from Mr. Reynolds and seems to be more aligned with “working class” moderate Dems that may feel the bridge is more for tourists and a benefit for the Southside at the expense of the taxpayers north of the river.

Politics is not about doing what’s best,

it’s about doing what best for the politicians.

Yes, we all want “free stuff” paid for by others.

We are currently in crises financially.

Aren’t we taxed enough already?

No need to be dreaming up new ways to spend the taxpayer’s money.

Bud

Bridge process: a model of democratic citizen engagement plus an equally vigorous response from city government

Latest in a series of posts on the pedestrian bridge

Doug Roysdon is a member of the Bethlehem Pedestrian-Biking Bridge Committee.

Dear Gadfly :

There has been some unfortunate controversy raised over the proposed feasibility study of the pedestrian/biking bridge. After a resounding 6-1 affirmation of the proposal last week, it seems that this decision is still being tested.

So, perhaps it’s time to put the bridge aside for a moment . . .

Let’s address a subject quite unrelated to economic, transportational, and social issues. That is, the remarkable, possibly unprecedented, democratic process that yielded the feasibility study in the first place.  The public record of that citizen-lead process stands on its own:

Six public meetings at the IceHouse and City Hall.

A citizen financed Vision Statement facilitated by national consultancy firm Neighbours Inc.

A twenty-five page report documenting our community conversation on the bridge.

Two Lehigh University architecture courses exploring the design of the bridge.

Thirty endorsements including the City Health Bureau, The Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce, ArtsQuest, and Discover Lehigh Valley.

These citizen-initiated actions were met with an exemplary response by Bethlehem city government and the Mayor. The city’s contribution to the study includes voting almost unanimously two times in support of the feasibility study, generously following and supporting the process by the City Planning Department, and engaging in four interviews with nationally recognized design firms.

In short, a model of democratic citizen engagement was met with an equally vigorous response from city government. Together, this dual response to a possible pedestrian/biking bridge marks a progressive means of addressing new ideas and public decision-making. In many ways, this is more important than the bridge itself!

Thanks, Doug

The debate over the pedestrian/bicycle bridge

Latest in a series of posts on the pedestrian bridge

City Council, November 17, 2020 video
begin min. 2:06:01

Budget Hearing, November 19, 2020 video
begin min. 36:40

Pedestrian/bicycle bridge feasibility study
Funding sources: DCNR grant $40,000; Northampton County grant $60,000; City funds $40,000 = $140,000

ref: The budget dance (3): the pedestrian/bicycle bridge

As promised, here is the back and forth between Councilman Callahan and Councilman Reynolds.

At City Council the debate opens with longish comments by both parties, then 3 instances of sparring.

At the Budget Hearing, Councilman Callahan probes Mr. Alkhal for items that the City is behind on, and 6-7 minutes in to the conversation he hits on ADA ramps which look like will be the subject of his budget amendment transferring the $40,000 from the pedestrian bridge line item.

The clips are longish but worth listening to.

We can learn a lot about each Councilman.

The narrative is like a short story developing.

Gadfly likes to lay these things out for you first.

What are you thinking?

ADA ramps (be sure to listen to Mr. Alkhal’s description) or a pedestrian bridge study?

City Council, November 17

Callahan 1 (7 mins.)

Reynolds 1 (7 Mins.)

 

Callahan 2 (3 mins.)

Reynolds 2 (3 mins.)

 

Callahan 3 (6 mins.)

Reynolds 3 (1 min.)

 

Callahan 4 (2 mins.)

Reynolds 4 (4 mins.)

 

Budget Hearing November 19

Callahan 5 (13 mins.)

The budget dance (3): the pedestrian/bicycle bridge

Latest in a series of posts on the pedestrian bridge

City Council, November 17, 2020 video
begin min. 2:06:01

Budget Hearing, November 19, 2020 video
begin min. 36:40

Pedestrian/bicycle bridge feasibility study
Funding sources: DCNR grant $40,000; Northampton County grant $60,000; City funds $40,000 = $140,000

The third element in the budget dance so far this year is $40,000 to fund a feasibility study for a pedestrian/bicycle bridge across the Lehigh River. (Click “pedestrian bridge” under Topics on the sidebar)

The idea for this pedestrian/bicycle bridge germinated several years ago and the process marked a key moment a year or two ago when $40,000 of City money was approved to join with state and county grants as indicated above to fund a feasibility study.

The City’s $40,000 was approved by Council in last year’s budget, and it came before Council last Tuesday night November 17 in what normally would be a routine approval of a contract with the firm selected by a City committee to do the study.

However, Councilman Callahan strongly objected to approving these funds, which led to as vigorous a Council interchange as Gadfly has witnessed in recent months between especially Councilman Callahan and Councilman Reynolds.

In brief, Councilman Callahan — reminding us that he was for the bridge project and voted for the study in better financial times — argued that this “bridge to nowhere” was a “luxury” when we already had ample and, in fact, underused pedestrian/bicycle access across the river, when we are in the midst of a pandemic, when businesses are suffering, when citizens are scrambling financially, when City revenue is down, when the City faces increased pension contributions, when we couldn’t afford the cost of a bridge anyway, and, perhaps most significantly, when we are cutting crucial City personnel (e.g., firefighters) and when we are raising taxes.

Other Councilpersons but especially Councilman Reynolds argued, among other things, that the bridge is an economic engine, that this is a different vision for the city, something to make us special, another brand for the City, one like others in which functionality is not the key element, something that has been in process for years, something in which a large number of residents have been creatively proactive and whose dedication needs to be affirmed, a project that has attracted state and county support, that has generated huge support from private citizens, City organizations, and the business community itself, a project, which if pursued after the feasibility study would not be paid for with City funds, a project whose funding was in the Capital part of the budget not the General fund, so that the money could not be used for salaries to save positions as Councilman Callahan would want.

Councilwoman Crampsie Smith — liking the project but feeling the pain of the pandemic — made a motion to table the proposal, but that failed 5-2.

Councilmen Callahan and Reynolds went back and forth, like two rams with locked horns.

It got testy. Councilman Callahan asking how often Councilman Reynolds voted to raise taxes. Councilman Reynolds asking that the record show that he was laughing at Councilman Callahan.

Councilman Callahan climactically turning, in effect, to the audience asking all who supported his view to send their comments to the City Clerk.

Council eventually voted 6-1 to approve the contract for the feasibility study.

Councilman Callahan was not deterred, however.

Learning that the $40,000 could be transferred to other uses in the Capital budget, at the November 19 budget hearing he quizzed Public Works director Alkhal about other possible uses for the money, seeming to settle on the fact that $40,000 would pay for ADA disability ramps at two intersections.

And will propose an amendment to that effect at the final budget deliberations.

That’s where we stand right now.

Followers will remember that one of the goals of the Gadfly project is to help you know your elected officials as well as possible so that you can make the most informed choices possible next time you vote.

Councilman Callahan is up for Council again in the May primary. And ’tis said that both Councilmen Callahan and Reynolds may run for Mayor.

So Gadfly is putting together some audio clips for you to hear. In the meantime, there are links to the meeting videos at the top of the page.

News about the pedestrian/bike bridge vote

Latest in a series of posts on the pedestrian bridge

There were plenty of fireworks surrounding the vote on the pedestrian/bike bridge feasibility study funding Tuesday night at Council. The funding was approved 6-1, Councilman Callahan naying. But the issue may not be over. Stay tuned. Tip o’ the hat to anybody who weighed in with Council. It was remarked that Council received much public contact. Gadfly did not have a good day yesterday and will fill you in on details of the discussion in due course.

Meanwhile . . .

Chatter around Gadfly’s water cooler about the idea of a pedestrian bridge:

  •  I know folks who are terrified of walking (much less biking and dodging the metal girders) on the Hill to Hill sidewalk. The noise is deafening, and sometimes terrifying, and you feel as if trucks are going to suck you onto the road in their backdraft.

 

  • Many Lehigh students I’ve talked with have expressed amazement that anyone would walk downtown via the bridges, which from their perspective seem forbidding and out of scale for walkers.

 

  • Foot and bike traffic between the two downtowns and/or the towpath or Greenway) will not increase unless there is a quieter, more pleasant experience awaiting folks as they cross the river.

For a little historical perspective on the origin of the idea for a bridge:

Nicole Radzievich, “Community to discuss whether a pedestrian bridge should be built in Bethlehem.” Morning Call, February 2, 2016.

“Walk-bike bridge over Lehigh River sought in Bethlehem.” Morning Call, February 2, 2017.

Sara K. Satullo, “$60K grant means Bethlehem can study if pedestrian bridge would be ‘economic engine’.” lehighvalleylive.com, January 24, 2020.

Gadfly goes to the primary sources –the bridges!

Latest in a series of posts on the pedestrian bridge

City Council votes on providing funds for a feasibility study of a pedestrian/biking bridge tonight. Gadfly encourages you to back this study before Council votes by emailing Council members before 4PM today (Clerks@bethlehem-pa.gov) and/or by calling in to the meeting during public comment (see instructions here).

Gadfly is sorry that he ran out of time and couldn’t visit the Minsi Trail bridge today.

Councilman Callahan has argued against the bridge study because he has video of our three bridges showing considerable already available and hardly used walking/riding space.

Gadfly doesn’t think Councilman Callahan is at all envisioning the kind of goals or the increased “traffic” the bridge advocates have in mind.

The decision tonight should not be based on current body counts or strictly utilitarian criteria.

So Gadfly went to the primary sources.

And herewith his thoughts on the Fahy and Hill to Hill bridges as shared pedestrian/bike paths:

  • bikes are supposed to ride in the road not on sidewalks
  • the proposed pedestrian/bike bridge would have a variety of uses, not just as a utilitarian conveyance of bodies
  • bikes and pedestrians are not a good mix unless there is adequate width space
  • the width size of a pedestrian/bike bridge might be governed by state, federal, or professional organization standards
  • Gadfly’s rough research indicates a shared pathway should be at least 10ft wide
  • the pathways on the Fahy and Hill to Hill bridges are 6ft wide
  • the Fahy bridge loses 15inches of width five or six times because of the bump-ins for lighting
  • the Hill to Hill bridge narrows at the trestle
  • Gadfly is 24inches wide elbow-to-elbow in brisk walking stride
  • Gadfly’s bike is 25inches across the handlebars
  • both bridges have hard “walls” on both sides
  • two walkers can barely pass side-by-side
  • a moving bike passing a walker is a delicate passage
  • the margin for error when a moving bike passes a pedestrian is slim
  • here are typical walkers on the Fahy bridge — taking up a lot of space
  • imagine a moving bike getting by

Because of the recreational and social goals of the proposed bridge by the advocates, one should also factor aesthetics into the funding decision.

Because the pathways on the Fahy and Hill to Hill bridges are so close to the roadways, it would not be an understatement to say that there is no aesthetic dimension to either bridge for walkers or riders.

The trip across can be sensorily devastating.

Listen.

 

The difference between a suggested 10ft+ width for paths shared by bikers and pedestrians and the 6ft widths of the Fahy and Hill to Hill bridges can be seen in these comparison photos of the Fahy with Jim Thorpe’s Mansion Bridge.

———–

Supporting the study:

ref: Interviews with design firms yield new insights into the utility and value of a pedestrian/biking bridge across the Lehigh
ref: Add your name to the many organizations endorsing the pedestrian/biking bridge feasibility study
ref: A pedestrian/biking bridge: “The possible is a big deal”
ref: Gadfly “talks” bridges with Councilman Callahan
ref: One cyclist hurt, one killed
ref: Act Now!
ref: Jim Thorpe’s Mansion Bridge

Against public funding:
ref: Let’s fund the study and the bridge privately

Against the study:
ref: A better use for the pedestrian/bike bridge money?

———–

City Council votes on providing funds for a feasibility study of a pedestrian/biking bridge tonight. Gadfly encourages you to back this study before Council votes by emailing Council members before 4PM today (Clerks@bethlehem-pa.gov) and/or by calling in to the meeting during public comment (see instructions here).

Act now — even before now! — to support the pedestrian/bike bridge feasibility study

Latest in a series of posts on the pedestrian bridge

City Council votes on providing funds for a feasibility study of a pedestrian/biking bridge tonight. Gadfly encourages you to back this study before Council votes by emailing Council members by noon today or when you can today (Clerks@bethlehem-pa.gov) and/or by calling in to the meeting during public comment (see instructions here).

Supporting the study:

ref: Interviews with design firms yield new insights into the utility and value of a pedestrian/biking bridge across the Lehigh
ref: Add your name to the many organizations endorsing the pedestrian/biking bridge feasibility study
ref: A pedestrian/biking bridge: “The possible is a big deal”
ref: Gadfly “talks” bridges with Councilman Callahan

Against public funding:
ref: Let’s fund the study and the bridge privately

Against the study:
ref: A better use for the pedestrian/bike bridge money?

———–

Below is a sample endorsement from one of the many organizations (see list here) supporting the funding of a feasibility study of a pedestrian/bike bridge across the Lehigh River.

City Council votes on providing funds for a feasibility study of a pedestrian/biking bridge tonight. Gadfly encourages you to back this study before Council votes by emailing Council members by noon today or when you can today (Clerks@bethlehem-pa.gov) and/or by calling in to the meeting during public comment (see instructions here).

One cyclist hurt, one killed — hit by cars on Fahy Bridge

Latest in a series of posts on the pedestrian bridge

video of the accident

Gadfly encourages you to back the feasibility study for a pedestrian/biking bridge before Council tomorrow night by emailing Council members now (Clerks@bethlehem-pa.gov) and/or by calling in to the meeting during public comment (instructions will be posted here this afternoon).

Selections from Tracy Jordan, “Driver cited under new bicycle law after striking cyclist on Fahy Bridge.” Morning Call, April 4, 2012.

One of the Lehigh Valley’s leading bicycling safety advocates became the region’s first victim under a new law meant to protect cyclists from passing vehicles when a car hit him from behind Monday on the Fahy Bridge in Bethlehem.

The law allows motorists to drive over double yellow lines when passing cyclists, but it requires drivers to give four-feet clearance. The law went into effect at 12:01 a.m. Monday. About 15 hours later, a car operated by a 17-year-old Bethlehem driver drove into Frank Pavlick as he was pedaling north on the Fahy Bridge on S. New Street.

On Dec. 4 in a similar accident on the bridge, 53-year-old Patrick Ytsma, who was well-known locally for his bicycle safety advocacy, was hit by a southbound car and died a few days later

The driver in the fatal accident, a 79-year-old Center Valley woman, pleaded guilty last month to careless driving and agreed to pay a $500 fine and forfeit her license for six months.

The offense is a summary traffic violation, but the driver is also being charged with a more serious misdemeanor for allegedly attempting to flee the accident after hitting Pavlick.

A bus driver for the Lehigh and Northampton Transportation Authority maneuvered across the two northbound lanes of the bridge to block the car from exiting the bridge, and the driver of another car pulled up to prevent him from backing up.

“The proper place for me to be was in the middle of the right lane, and from what I get from the police that’s captured very carefully on video,” Pavlick said. “This guy who hit me is going to get educated. But he also needs to be made into an example. Other people need to know.”

Schmitt said in both accidents the bicycle riders were riding in the traffic lane as the law allows, but the motorists apparently did not see them or were driving too fast to stop.

“This is the second Lehigh Valley expert cyclist hit from behind,” Schmitt said. “What we need to do is keep motorists from pretending that bridge is a NASCAR raceway.”

Gadfly encourages you to back the feasibility study for a pedestrian/biking bridge before Council tomorrow night by emailing Council members now (Clerks@bethlehem-pa.gov) and/or by calling in to the meeting during public comment (instructions will be posted here this afternoon).

Let’s fund the study and the bridge privately

Latest in a series of posts on the pedestrian bridge

Bud Hackett is a Bethlehem resident who raised 4 kids in the City. He recently became very interested in quality of life issues in the city and hopes to offer a balance to the approach City Council is taking.

Gadfly:

What a great idea to build a pedestrian bridge in Bethlehem! Let’s fund it privately because government does not have enough money.

We all love free things or things that others will pay for and we get the benefits.

Gadfly recently ran an article that “walking trails are racist” because a trail survey showed a small percentage of POC’s using the trail.  Would the pedestrian bridge be classified the same way, despite so many liberal organizations supporting the bridge study?

Of course, the consultant will propose all the reasons why the City should fund their study / contract. That’s how they make money.

In these times when government does not have enough money to do all the new spending being proposed and taxpayers angry that “aren’t we taxed enough already?” — maybe the study and the bridge should paid for by those that support it.

I promise to donate the first $100.00 for the bridge construction ($2 – $5 million ???) if and when the project is approved to move ahead as a privately funded project.  There appears to be a lot of interest.  Putting our money where our mouth is – a great concept.

Bud

Gadfly “talks” bridges with Councilman Callahan

Latest in a series of posts on the pedestrian bridge

I have some video of the three bridges across the Lehigh, and there is walking
space and biking space on all three of those bridges that’s hardly ever used at all.
And I just think that spending $140,000$-$150,000 on a study . . . would be a total waste of money.

Councilman Callahan

Bicycles are supposed to ride in the roadway, not on the sidewalks.
Peter Crownfield

ref: Interviews with design firms yield new insights into the utility and value of a pedestrian/biking bridge across the Lehigh
ref: A better use for the pedestrian/bike bridge money?
ref: Add your name to the many organizations endorsing the pedestrian/biking bridge feasibility study
ref: A pedestrian/biking bridge: “The possible is a big deal”

Funding sources: DCNR grant $40,000; Northampton County grant $60,000; City funds $40,000 = $140,000

Gadfly encourages you to back the feasibility study for a pedestrian/biking bridge before Council tomorrow night by emailing Council members now (Clerks@bethlehem-pa.gov) and/or by calling in to the meeting during public comment (instructions will be posted here this afternoon).

———–

Smart, progressive cities are walk and bike friendly these days. It’s the big thing. It’s the “in” thing.

Gadfly should know.

He spent the summer of 2019 reading walkability guru Jeff Speck (at Tony Hanna’s good urging, as he remembers it) and shared his reading with you (for instance, here).

(Speck did a report for Bethlehem in 2009, and his report can be found on this interesting page of City reports — a page where some reports go to die — especially noteworthy is the 2016 Trail study.)

Gadfly knows walking and busing in this town.

He walked and bused across town to work for almost 50 years.

Which enabled his family of six kids plus gainfully employed Mother Gadfly to exist on one car all those years — foiling the automobile, gas, and insurance industries all at once and leaving small carbon footprint.

We have never had two cars. How many families can say that?

People on New St. set their morning clocks by Gadfly.

When he retired, noting his absence, those people asked his son the neighborhood UPS driver if he died.

Gadfly knows the beauty of South Mountain in spring framed by the blossoming trees adjacent to God’s Acre, a view more valuable than any painting (and worthy of Dana’s sacred camera).

Gadfly knows that the simple act of getting on the Fahy bridge on both ends can be an adventure, an adventure that increases exponentially with age and the thinning of your hair.

Gadfly knows the roller-coaster-like thrill caused by going down the widely spaced steps on the east route around City Hall and sweeping helplessly (god forbid there was a car pulling in to the garage) through the portal at the bottom.

It’s a real wake-up call in the morning.

You roll to a stop just in time for the intersection.

Gadfly knows that the Fahy bridge is 635 of his strides long.

Gadfly knows that it is hard to meditate or plan your work day walking 8 inches from the north bound lane of Fahy bridge roaring at you with speeding cars and hulking fume-y buses.

Gadfly knows that the Fahy bridge walkway was not engineered for the co-existence of bikes and walkers, or the engineer had a dark sense of humor.

Gadfly knows you are wise to check your rear-view mirror for bikes passing you.

Gadfly knows you are wise to scrunch when you see a bike coming toward you.

Gadfly knows that in the winter there is a bitter wind channel blowing west to east 7/8s of the way across on the south side of the Fahy bridge that, if you are not careful, will render you deaf in the right ear for half a day.

Gadfly knows that it might be days before the Fahy bridge walkway was shoveled after a snow storm, and you’d best bone up on the Act of Contrition before walking in the roadway.

Gadfly knows that the south end of the Fahy bridge debouches (good SAT word) you into one of the worst intersections for pedestrians in town.

He thought often that it would be a shame to walk so far from home only to die at this intersection when he had almost made it to work.

Gadfly, like Walt Whitman, was a friend of bus drivers.

Gadfly remembers the smell of the bus station.

Gadfly called his bus route the United Nations Line.

Gadfly remembers the day when he was the only non-POC passenger, the only passenger whose first language was English.

You can learn a lot about Bethlehem riding a bus, or even waiting for a bus at a busy stop.

(Speck has such wonderfully simple suggestions of how to make people want to take the bus, how to make them enjoy it.)

Gadfly is not as intimate with the Minsi Trail and Hill to Hill bridges as he is with the Fahy.

But it’s obvious that those roadways are not safe for bikes and that the walkways were not designed for their co-existence with pedestrians.

You must have witnessed the adult game of “pedestrian scramble” played many times daily at the treacherous crossing at the south end of the Minsi.

Gadfly guesses he would say respectfully to Councilman Callahan that the reason the bridges have walking and biking space hardly used is that those spaces were not properly designed for them.

The roads/bridges were designed for cars.

Do you remember the south end of the Fahy in its penultimate existence, where the walkway was through a tunnel/landfill in which every so often you would meet rodents of the human and non-human kind?

What the hell, simply, what the hell.

The question for Councilman Callahan, sir, respectfully, is why walkers and bikers don’t use the bridges more for simply utilitarian purposes much less recreational?

———-

Gadfly encourages you to back the feasibility study for a pedestrian/biking bridge before Council tomorrow night by emailing Council members now (Clerks@bethlehem-pa.gov) and/or by calling in to the meeting during public comment (instructions will be posted here this afternoon).

A pedestrian/biking bridge: “The possible is a big deal” (Reprinted from December 11, 2019)

logo Latest in a series of posts on Walkability and Bikeability logo

Doug Roysdon is a member of the Bethlehem Pedestrian-Biking Bridge Committee.

Reprinted from December 11, 2019.

Nice day yesterday, nice day today. As you are out exercising, think of the value of a pedestrian/bike bridge to our community.

A proposal to fund a feasibility study for just such a pedestrian/bridge will be voted on at City Council Tuesday night.

Gadfly encourages you to back the study by emailing Council now (Clerks@bethlehem-pa.gov) and/or by calling in to the meeting during public comment (instructions will be posted here Monday afternoon).

———–

A Note on the Pedestrian/Biking Bridge

Like Festival Unbound, the pedestrian/biking bridge project is focused on a unified vision of the future city. At its core is the concept of a wholly contemporary “walking city” serving the needs of a pedestrian and biking population. In a series of public meetings on the bridge, a seemingly unending flow of connections associated with the bridge were advanced by Bethlehem citizens.  Among them are:

Reconnection of the city to its river for environmental and recreational purposes

The creation of a pedestrian cultural hub between Sand Island and the Banana Factory

Joining Historic Bethlehem and the Industrial History Museum — an advanced walking tour of Bethlehem History

Expansion of running and walking marathons, charitable events and city promotions

Social and communal links between Lehigh University and Moravian College

Connecting downtown businesses to South Side attractions

Creating a new, more physical  dimension to Bethlehem tourism

Opening new real estate markets for people dedicated to inner city life

Creating a safe,  environmental corridor from Illick’s Mill to the Greenway for walkers and bikers

Providing a superior walking experience in support of senior living in Bethlehem

Linking downtown festivals to both sides of the river

Creating an exciting new platform for night life in Bethlehem

Promoting the integration of Bethlehem’s diverse cultures

Producing a vital link in the rail trail network of Eastern Pennsylvania

Opening of the river banks to cultural and commercial activity

And more…….

Would a pedestrian/biking bridge make all these good things magically happen? No…..

A pedestrian/biking bridge would  make them possible.  The possible is a big deal.

Doug

Add your name to the many organizations endorsing the pedestrian/biking bridge feasibility study!

Latest in a series of posts on the pedestrian bridge

Doug Roysdon is a member of the Bethlehem Pedestrian-Biking Bridge Committee.

ref: Interviews with design firms yield new insights into the utility and value of a pedestrian/biking bridge across the Lehigh

Hi Gadfly:

As a part of our update on the current development of the pedestrian/biking bridge project, we would like to note that an important budgetary vote reconsidering the funding of the feasibility study will be coming at the City Council meeting next Tuesday, November 17.

With this in mind, I am offering here the current list of the many Bethlehem organizations and institutions who have already endorsed the feasibility study in the hopes that your readers will do the same.

You may offer your support of the Bethlehem pedestrian/biking bridge feasibility study to the city council by sending an email to  Clerks@bethlehem-pa.gov as soon as possible but before noon Tuesday November 17th. We need to have endorsements in the hands of the Council members well before the meeting/vote that night.

Thanks for your participation in this very important issue!

Doug Roysdon Sierra Club

———–

City of Bethlehem Health Department

CACLV

Outdoors and Wellness Committee South Side Vision

CAT (Coalition for Appropriate Transportation)

Moravian College

Northampton Community College

Backyards for Wildlife

MANA (Mount Airy Neighborhood Association)

Sierra Club

Lehigh U. South Side Initiative

Arts Quest

New Bethany Ministries

Community Bike Works

Touchstone Theatre

Arts Quest

Alliance for Sustainable Communities

Bethlehem Partnership for a Healthy Community

Delaware Valley Green Building Council – Lehigh Valley

Pennsylvania Pedalcycle & Pedestrian Advisory Committee

RENEW Lehigh Valley

Delaware & Lehigh Canal Heritage Corridor

Discover Lehigh Valley

Appalachian Mountain Club

Social Impact Center

Godfrey Daniels.

Get Your Tail on the Trail

Citizens of Bethlehem Climate Lobby

City of Bethlehem Environmental Advisory Council

IceHouse Tonight

A better use for the pedestrian/bike bridge money?

Latest in a series of posts on the pedestrian bridge

At City Council November 3, Councilman Callahan, catching wind that the Mayor would be proposing the loss of 4 firefighters in next year’s budget stressed by the pandemic, sought to find out if money committed last year on the pedestrian bridge was spent and, if not, whether it could be reallocated, making the case that public safety is a higher priority.

Councilman Callahan also suggested that the money might be allocated to wi-fi for students, a need made evident in the pandemic and to which Councilwoman Van Wirt called attention.

The Councilman further argued that he had video of our three bridges showing considerable already available and hardly used walking/riding space.

He suggested that we need to “put our priorities in order” in this pandemic time and that funds for the bridge would be a “total waste of money.”

Interviews with design firms yield new insights into the utility and value of a pedestrian/biking bridge across the Lehigh

Latest in a series of posts on the pedestrian bridge

Doug Roysdon is a member of the Bethlehem Pedestrian-Biking Bridge Committee.

Dear Gadfly:

A recent series of interviews between the City and four nationally prominent bridge design firms has yielded significant new insights into the potential economic and social impact of the pedestrian/biking bridge across the Lehigh River. New faces and new ideas have greatly boosted our understanding of the bridge as a community asset.

The interviews with their accompanying commentaries have brought wonderful new perspectives into the potential economic and cultural uses of the bridge. First and foremost on the engineering side, it is notable that not one of the design firms found traversing the railroad tracks an overwhelming issue. In fact, throughout the interviews, the idea of a technical or political impossibility of building the bridge was never a concern.

On economic issues the design firms were equally positive. New input brought fresh insights. By connecting Historic Bethlehem with the Greenway, for example, the bridge opens a physically active dimension to tourism in Bethlehem — a reason for longer visits to the city!  A richly lit “night bridge” along the Lehigh River promises a gorgeous fifteen minute evening walk between the downtown and the South Side Arts district and a major new addition to the city’s night life. As a daytime attraction, the bridge has the prospect of creating a vehicle-free pedestrian hub in the exact center of the city: a contemporary locus for commercial and cultural engagement.

Meanwhile, in a second revealing enterprise, our work with the Climate Action Plan proved an equally insightful opportunity for understanding the social and economic benefits of the bridge. As a link between the north and south corridors of the city, the bridge suddenly took on a greater utilitarian scope. That north-south connection immediately makes commuting to work by bike a reasonable alternative for hundreds of Bethlemites. Most importantly, it makes the creation of an intercity biking infrastructure a practical concept. In short, the pedestrian bridge, as it supports the Climate Action Plan by taking vehicles off the roads, would give rise to a committed biking population in Bethlehem and provide the catalyst for what we might call a “biking city.”

And so, with the input of a full cadre of urban planners, the potential benefits of the pedestrian/biking bridge have become ever more profound. Embraced by the city’s Climate Action Plan and recognized by a series of national consulting firms as a potentially powerful means for advancing the city as a tourist destination, a pedestrian/biking bridge across the Lehigh River could not be a finer symbol of the city’s progressive future.

Doug