March 1: | Rebuild shifts | Compromise fence for Franklin Square | Toilet plunger bike lanes

After what Councilmember Blackwell described as “the most detailed meeting” on Rebuild, the city’s $500 million initiative to reinvest in parks, recreation centers and libraries, the Inquirer reports that City Council and the administration are negotiating a path forward. Following debate and criticism over reserving project management and funds for the Fairmount Park Conservancy and the Free Library Foundation, the administration now says it would allow smaller, neighborhood nonprofits to manage Rebuild projects

For a refreshing change, the notebook reports that Philadelphia’s schools are ahead of many other Pennsylvania school districts. Unfortunately, it’s for recognizing that there’s lead in the drinking water. In a new report entitled Get the Lead Out, PennEnvironment found that most schools have at least some lead in its fixtures, yet most don’t conduct any testing. Pennsylvania does not require testing for lead in drinking water.

Transportation analyst Bruce Schaller has put out a report on the current impact of Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) on traffic and public transit, CityLab reports. Entitled “Unsustainable?: The Growth of App-Based Ride Services and Traffic, Travel and the Future of New York City,” the former NYDOT official concludes that as public transportation ridership continues to decline, cities need to actively compete with TNCs to stay relevant. Furthermore, Schaller cautions that “if managers of the transit system and street network do not respond quickly and effectively…[TNC ridership will continue to grow]…with increasing impacts on traffic congestion, transit ridership and potentially traffic safety and the environment.”

The Chinese Lantern Festival is back at Franklin Square. After fierce criticism last year for charging people to access to a public space and putting up a harsh black fence around the installation, Historic Philadelphia, the private group that manages the park, hired landscape architect Brian Dragon (the designer behind Eakins Oval’s pop-ups) to design a compromise fence for the Chinese Lantern Festival. The compromise means that the public can have partial visual and physical access during the daytime. Inga Saffron argues that this fence epitomizes the increasingly common reliance on private dollars to finance and maintain public spaces, and questions if the “only way to obtain those funds is to hold events that limit the public’s access to its own parks.”

As American city dwellers embrace bike-share programs and ride-hailing apps, Chinese urbanites are picking up “Uber for bikes,” a hybrid start-up model that’s crushing public transit ridership. Unlike traditional bike-share models that require designated docks for pick-up and drop-off, China’s bike-sharing startups, allow riders to get bikes wherever. And, unlike traditional TNCs, the bike-share startups own the vehicles and thus have to maintain the inventory. Quartz covers the convenience that built these companies, and may cause their potential demise.

A mysterious bicycle safety advocate has made a makeshift bike lane in Wichita, Kansas using toilet plungers, KSN News Wichita reports. 

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