On June 2, Feet First Philly joined the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia and other advocates to call on Mayor Jim Kenney to move ahead with the new road design for Washington Avenue with or without the support of Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson, who is now calling for the road to be restriped as it is now, a dangerous five lane corridor.
Read our full statement:
(June 2, 2022, Philadelphia, Pa) In September 2020, the City of Philadelphia announced that Washington Ave will receive a three-lane redesign which was supported by data showing it was the safest treatment option, and by seven years of public meetings, studies, surveys, and outreach to 26 RCOs and Civic Associations. Organizations like Feet First Philly and Clean Air Council supported this decision because it put the safety of all road users first, and was widely supported by surrounding neighbors.
But this was short lived, as earlier this year the City abruptly rescinded this option and decided that it will reconfigure Washington Avenue to a less safe option: choosing between either a mixed option that combines three-, four-, and five-lane treatments; or one that is mostly four lanes. Ultimately the city decided to move forward with the mixed option which will incrementally improve pedestrian safety, but not to the extent that the original three-lane option would. This decision was already a compromise between safety for pedestrians and other road users, and allowing vehicles to speed as much as possible through the corridor.
Washington Ave has the opportunity to become a safer road in 2022 but now suddenly we are again faced with another roadblock. A safer treatment for seniors, students, and families who want to travel along and cross Washington Avenue safely is being held hostage.
This is another act of undermining data driven decisions, and refusing to prioritize the safety of pedestrians and other vulnerable road users. If the City wants to take its commitment to Vision Zero seriously, roads like Washington Avenue need to be redesigned to protect road users including pedestrians, who are most likely to be killed in traffic crashes. Backtracking on a previous commitment to make the road safer is a direct blow to this policy.
This sets a terrible precedent for all other complete streets, vision zero, and roadway safety projects across Philadelphia. Roadways like Roosevelt Boulevard, Hunting Park, Lindbergh Boulevard, Erie Avenue, Castor Avenue, and Cobbs Creek Parkway. While the City and elected officials dither by scrambling issues and moving goal posts, lives are lost and people are maimed. And the overall livability and sustainability of our City suffers.
From 2014-2018, 9 people were killed or seriously injured on Washington Avenue, including 5 people walking. How many more have to die for the City of Philadelphia to protect our vulnerable road users and make Washington Ave safer? Repaving Washington Ave without implementing the three-lane or mixed option will only result in preserving road conditions that encourage speeding and result in the continued legacy of serious injuries and deaths along this corridor. The City needs to protect its most vulnerable road users, pedestrians and cyclists, and reconfigure Washington Ave to make it safer for all.