Equity & Active Transportation
Semester: Spring 2023
Faculty Advisor: Gary W McDonogh
Field Site: The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia
Field Supervisor: Patrick Monahan & John Boyle
Praxis Poster:Keon Parsa_Praxis Poster_Final
During the 2023 Spring semester, I interned with the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, located in Center City. The main project I was working on was the Connecting Communities project, which sought to address one crucial barrier that was preventing residents from underserved communities from accessing the Circuit Trails, a network of hundreds of miles of shared use bike and pedestrian paths across the greater Philadelphia area.
The barrier in question was a lack of access, be it a lack of information or a lack of a safe route to get from the trail to their house.
The map shown on the poster is of Trenton, New Jersey. When driving, residents would be routed mainly through busy arterial roads that are designed to move cars quickly. These roads are not usually accommodating to people walking or biking. The map highlights alternative routes that help connect neighborhoods to the trails on low-stress neighborhood streets, which most people who drive likely would not have known about. This can sometimes be challenging because car-centric planning deliberately seeks to discourage through-traffic on neighborhood roads, instead pushing it to busier streets. This can result in longer, more awkward navigating when walking or biking. In addition, things like creeks, highways, and railroads act as physical barriers that significantly reduce the number of routes, generally only to select busy roads.
This is why, in addition to providing information to residents, the project seeks to identify important stretches that should be targeted for improvement in the future, such as including a bike lane, crosswalk, or improved sidewalk.
Aside from making the maps, I was also involved in preparing visual content to present these maps to the community and interested parties. This involved using a tool new to me: ArcGIS StoryMaps.
Interning at the Bicycle Coalition was a very positive experience for me because I was able to directly engage with the Connecting Community project, along with others, while developing relationships with my mentor and faculty advisor. I was able to practice previously learned skills, including mapping and technical work, while also developing new ones, like graphic design and bicycling related research. It has also helped to prepare me for my upcoming summer internship at the Washington Area Bicyclist Association in Washington DC.