July 16: House passes transpo patch | Long wait for legal Uber | Mixed-use Moyamensing | UIL waits for Council | Business <3 Bike Infrastructure

The U.S. House voted 367-55 to pass an $11 billion stop-gap funding bill to avert the transportation funding cliff. House lawmakers paid for the bill by extending customs fees, and “pension smoothing” which critics are deriding as a gimmick that will underfund pensions. A mature accounting of what all this infrastructure maintenance really costs and who should pay seems a long way off.

Ride-sharing services are defying the PUC’s cease-and-desist order in Pittsburgh, while they wait for the long path to political approval. Andrew Staub at PA Independent notes that even if Senator Wayne Fontana succeeds in passing his bill legalizing e-hailing apps Uber X and Lyft in such a short span of time (the fall session in Harrisburg is just 11 days,) it will take much longer for the PUC to actually write the new regulations. PUC’s enforcers are opposing an emergency application to run the services in the interim.

Alex Duller of FUSA Designs thinks Moyamensing Avenue in Pennsport wants to become a mixed-use corridor with more amenities, but argues the residential-only zoning is frustrating more commercial uses. He told Flying Kite: “Right now, no one’s willing to sign a letter of intent based on the fact that [the space] is still zoned for single-family.”

The company Mayor Nutter selected to buy Philadelphia Gas Works, UIL Holdings, is officially allowed to walk away from the deal as of midnight last night, but they’re waiting to see what City Council does, reports Sean Collins Walsh: “UIL has invested at least $7 million in its effort to acquire PGW, and few expected the company to walk away from the deal until there is a clearer indication from Council.” The deal needs approval from Council and a state regulatory panel.

Sarah Goodyear at CityLab writes about a new Schoolhouse Rock-style short film from Streetfilms and ITDP explaining how politically-mandated parking destroys the walkable fabric of a city: “The idea behind all these parking spots, as the film points out, is to improve the quality of life for a city’s residents. The effect is often the exact reverse, as parking eats up space where humans used to walk, live, play, and do business.”

And speaking of business, people are setting up shop along the city’s Schuylkill River bike trails to market to cyclists. The idea that dedicated bike infrastructure is good for business has been slow to germinate here (Shake Shack is so far the only business to pay for its own bike corral, and no businesses are clamoring for protected bike lanes yet, like they are in Portland), but up in New York City, small businesses have been learning there’s a jump in sales receipts when the city trades parking lanes for bike lanes.

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