Washington Avenue To Get Restriped, Road Diet Needed

Frankford Chocolate at 22nd & Washington

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As Christine Fisher at Plan Philly reported last week, the Philadelphia City Planning Commission (PCPC) presented proposals for the restriping of Washington Avenue. Anyone who has driven, walked or biked this street can attest that congestion, lack of clarity and a fair amount of lawlessness abounds here. Several factors contribute. The lines on the road themselves have worn very thin. There is a lot of industrial and commercial traffic on the street and illegal stopping mean that this gateway between Center City and South Philly experiences a higher percentage of accidents than the average Philadelphia street.

Longer term the city will engage in significant water infrastructure work that will mean a more complete overhaul of Washington Avenue should be pursued. This eyesore of a street hampers a vital connection between an expanding Center City and gentrifying South Philly.

Shorter term, below are various proposals PCPC is considering. Apologies in advance for the low light/resolution of the images. Their full report should be posted online shortly.  

These options all call for an expanded sidewalk.
These options maintain existing sidewalk dimensions but expand parking.
These options call for creative use of wider section of Wash Ave near Columbus Blvd.
Some bike inspiration from DC & NY.

Ultimately, we'd like to see any proposals with bike lanes to move these lanes curbside rather (see our post on protected bike lanes and intersections) than mingling between moving and parked cars. Parked and parking cars should be on the exterior facing travel lanes, as they are already in much of the city. Washington Avenue creates unique issues for the bicycle however, and none of these restriping proposals make us feel safer about biking here. Kudos to the PCPC for thinking outside of the box in regards to restriping. The city could have merely repainted lines as they lay today. That would be a mistake. There is always an opportunity to more adequately balance the use of a street for not only cars, but cyclists, pedestrians, trucks and buses. Stay tuned to this space for more proposals regarding Washington Avenue. Our ideas are a bit more bold than what is capable with a temporary restripe. Washington Avenue is an asset waiting to be transformed.

Last Updated: Sunday, 02 March 2014 @ 13.05
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Written By: 
geoff's picture Geoff Kees Thompson Founder + Urban Planner Website: thisoldcity.com About the Author:

Other than time away from Philly studying his masters in Urban Planning in the Netherlands, Geoff has lived here since 2005. He founded This Old City to advocate for better public space as a means to economic development, improved public health, lower crime and a more environmentally sustainable future. He currently sits on the Executive Board of SOSNA and is the head volunteer gardener for Saint Mark's Church at 1625 Locust Street.


He is also Chair of The 5th Square PAC, an organization committed to voter education and the funding of progressive urbanist candidates for Philadelphia's future. 


Follow This Old City on Twitter @thisoldcity and Facebook or Geoff individually @geoffkees

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