Sneckamaxon! Calming Fishtown's Wild Intersection at Frankford and Shackamaxon

An oversized and abnormal intersection in a heavily trafficked pedestrian corridor

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This guest post comes to us from reader and Fishtown resident Nate Hommel

I live in the vibrant neighborhood of Fishtown with my wife and two little kids. We own a car but choose not to use it very much. Fishtown has excellent public transit, but why does it have to be so hard to reach on foot?

Here's my typical commute: I take the bus most mornings with my 4 year old daughter to her school in the Northern Liberties neighborhood. We walk down Thompson Street to Frankford Ave, then play frogger to get to the bus stop on the West side of Frankford and Thompson. There is no crosswalk at Thompson Street, a route which many people take to get to the Girard stop on the Market Frankford elevated line. On my way home from the Girard El stop I walk up Frankford and have to cross the outrageously oversized cartway that is Shackamaxon Street.

Due to the angled alignment of the intersection the 1 lane, 1 block long, Northwest bound  Shackamaxon Street crossing is nearly 115' on foot. This excess space leads to poor behavior. Northbound cars enter Frankford Ave at an angle, (think highway on ramp) which sends the following message: hit the gas, maybe you'll beat that bus!

You'll notice circular tracks in the sneckdown image above. Anecdotally, most u-turns at this intersection (clearly marked as illegal) seem to be from taxis that drop people off near Frankford and Girard, then dare not venture further into Fishtown and just crank the wheel around at Shackamaxon.

The image above shows the area of the existing walkway, the unneeded cartway space, as made evident by the recent snow events, and suggests locations for crosswalks. The aerial photo in the upper right shows the existing conditions without snow.

This is a maddening crossing that can be so much better with a little paint, some planters, and large stones to protect pedestrians and reduce the crossing distance. Dare I say, it might even increase some on street parking spaces as a result! Can we get the community to rally around this? 

Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 February 2014 @ 09.11
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jongeeting's picture Jon Geeting About the Author:

Jon Geeting is a Philadelphia-based freelance journalist and policy researcher. His writing also appears at Next City, Primary Colors, and Keystone Politics, where he covers politics and elections, land use and transportation, and urban economic policy. He also writes a monthly Political Machine column at Philly City Paper.