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Speaking Out

October 25, 2011, Volume 58, No. 09

More New Bike Racks for Commuters

I was reading Almanac (October 11, 2011) and was happy to see the article on “Our Commitment to Sustainability.” I live in University City and am proud to work at Penn. With all these sustainable initiatives, I am even prouder to work here.

Since the introductory paragraph to this article mentioned “no matter how they get to campus” and “additional service enhancements” are to come, perhaps someone is already working on the bike rack issue. But if not, I am writing to put this on the radar.

I ride my bicycle to work. I know a lot of new bike racks have been installed on campus in the last few years, but there are still way too many racks that are the old kind and need to be replaced. My bicycle is not one of those light-weight bikes that I can easily lift up. This means that I cannot hang my front tire over the rack in order to lock-up my bike and therefore limits my parking to the outside edge of the old racks. This is not a problem with the newer kinds of bike racks. The Richards Building had new racks installed on the landing outside the main entrance, however I am not able to carry my heavy bike up the flight of stairs to use them.  In addition, these racks are being utilized by so many people that more racks are needed.

As the article on the back cover of the Almanac illustrated, University City is a great neighborhood and we keep attracting more people to live here. The bicycle-riding population will only continue to grow. I hope that soon all the bike racks on the Penn campus will be replaced with the newer kind of racks. I don’t know what the new racks are called, and there seem to be several styles, so please ask someone who rides a bike about which kind to purchase. Thank you.

—Karen M. Wisnia, Business Administrator for Human Resources, Physiology
Department & Pennsylvania Muscle Institute

Response: A Multi-Phased Plan

Thank you for your interest and concern expressed in your letter to Almanac about bicycle parking on campus. The Office of the University Architect, the Divisions of Public Safety and Business Services have been working together on bicycle parking issues across campus and have developed a multi-phased plan for implementation. The plan includes upgrading existing racks and is focusing on creating centralized bicycle parking areas, or corrals, in high-use areas accessible to city bike lanes. These corrals are designed to service buildings within a 100 yard radius and will include our University standard bike rack,  stainless steel u-racks (looks like an upside-down u) improved lighting and security cameras.  

Currently, we are upgrading and/or installing two bike corrals a year. Most recently completed are corrals at 36th and Walnut Streets, Van Pelt Library, Dunning Coaches Center and the University Museum, adding parking for almost 200 bikes. Racks at Chem ’58, Williams Hall, and Guardian Drive have been upgraded, increasing the capacity of those areas by nearly 50 percent.  We are also acutely aware of the need to add capacity in the School of Medicine area. A new corral at Blockley Hall is currently in the planning stages, and we will soon be reorganizing and expanding parking near Johnson Pavilion and Hamilton Walk.

We hope this provides you with  some insight to our commitment towards a more livable University City.  

—Bob Lundgren
University Landscape Architect
Facilities and Real Estate Services 

New Trees for 38th Street

Now that the University has removed the dead and dying trees along the West side of 38th Street from Walnut to Spruce, it is my fervent hope that they will replace them, perhaps with advice from the Morris Arboretum. In the past, the spaces were simply filled with concrete, which made the ugliest street on campus even uglier, especially the stretch from the Locust Street bridge to Spruce which has a concrete monolith adjacent to the sidewalk. The problem is that no one has “ownership” of this stretch of campus, just food trucks owners who have no voice. Across the street, Wharton is beautifully landscaped. The West side is ugly and is only yards away from the President’s house. Please, replace the trees!

—Mark Haskins, Professor
Pathology and Medical Genetics
School of Veterinary Medicine

Response: Improving Streetscapes

Thank you for your interest and concern expressed in your letter to Almanac, for improving the streetscape on the western side of 38th Street from Walnut to Spruce Streets.   As you know, some especially vulnerable ash trees in poor health were recently removed due to very stressful conditions. We very much want to replace these trees and improve the streetscape there when the funding is available. Generally, we try to replace the entire streetscape as a total project improvement, creating and maintaining a continuous planting bed with planting soil and cobble pavers on the surface, instead of individual tree pits cut out of concrete. Small tree pits are not adequate for the urban environment, and tree loss is significant in most cases.

Each year we prune, remove and replace trees across campus as part of our basic management program. In conjunction with the Morris Arboretum, which has been part of our landscape team since the early 1980s, we conduct tree evaluations, inventories and assessments of the nearly 7,000 trees on campus. Recently, other more heavily travelled campus areas needing similar improvements have been addressed, including Woodland Walk, 34th Street at Smith Walk, Locust Walk, Walnut Street and now 33rd Street as part of the Shoemaker Green project. This block of 38th Street is on our priority list. 

—Bob Lundgren
University Landscape Architect
Facilities and Real Estate Services


Speaking Out welcomes reader contributions.
Short, timely letters on University issues will be accepted by Thursday at noon for the following  Tuesday’s issue, subject to right-of-reply guidelines. Advance notice of intention to submit is appreciated. —Eds.

Almanac - October 25, 2011, Volume 58, No. 09