TAKE ACTION: Make Washington Avenue Safer

A faded bike lane on Washington Avenue. (Photo: PlanPhilly)

A faded bike lane on Washington Avenue West. (Photo: PlanPhilly)

Your help is needed to let Mayor Nutter, City Council and the Streets Department know that there is strong public support for expediting a plan to reconfigure Washington Avenue to make it safer for all users.

Four years ago, the Philadelphia City Planning Commission (PCPC) received a planning grant to evaluate how to improve roadway safety for all users on Washington Avenue. PCPC then kicked off the public planning process in 2013 to devise a new pavement marking plan to achieve the goal of making Washington Avenue safer.

As is well known and documented, Washington Avenue is a road that does not serve anyone well. Faded pavement markings compromise safety; lack of adequate parking and lack of enforcement had bred a culture of illegal parking within the turn lane, loading zones, in the bike lanes and on sidewalks; and the bike lane has a significant gap between 7th and 11th Streets.

We reported on the public meetings in October 2013, November 2013, March 2014 and October 2014. In June 2014, we reported an update on the Planning Commission’s proposed plan and in September 2014, we described how three small sections were getting re-striped while the plan for the other two larger sections were undergoing more deliberation.   The Planning Commission’s plans can be viewed here.

It’s been at least a year since the Planning Commission proposed a new pavement marking plan to help improve safety for all users on Washington Avenue and by our count, at least four public meetings in addition to four “steering committee” meetings have been held. Also, at the request of Councilmen Squilla and Johnson, who represent the east and west sides of the avenue, respectively, there have been additional meetings with businesses owners to hear more about the proposed pavement marking plan and the potential impacts on safety, parking, enforcement and traffic flow.

Safety along the 2.3 mile corridor and 29 signalized intersections is a major concern.  The Planning Commission’s consultant found that between 2010-2012, 900 (reportable and non-reportable) crashes of motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists occurred on Washington Avenue.  In particular, crashes cluster between 5th Street and 9th Street and between 9th Street and 17th Street, likely due to the high number of conflicts in these areas. Bicyclists and pedestrians have become vulnerable users along the corridor, particularly between 5th Street and 15th Street.

On average, six crashes occur along the corridor per week; one crash every 10 days requires towing or involves an injury and one pedestrian or bicyclist is injured every 3 weeks due to a crash.

We think it’s time for the Streets Department and Council members to settle on a plan and we would like your help to tell the Nutter Administration and City Council to get moving.  The pavement markings between 25th and 16th Streets and 13th and 4th Street have virtually disappeared. We think it’s critical for the striping plan to:

  • offer improved safety for all road users
  • close the gap in the bike lane between 7th and 11th Streets

We urge you to take a moment to send an email message to now Mayor Nutter, Councilmen Squilla and Johnson and Deputy Commissioner Carroll calling to implement a striping plan NOW to make Washington Avenue safer for all road users.



Topics: Action Center, Biking in Philly, Featured

12 comments on “TAKE ACTION: Make Washington Avenue Safer

  1. JerilynnMcGovern

    I bike Washington Ave frequently to get to the Schulkill Banks and rail trails. It is extremely treacherous especially with random parking which is not confined to curbside forcing cars and bikes to battle it out for passage down the middle of the street.

  2. Jake

    Spreading the word about this. A safe Washington Avenue is well overdue.

  3. William West

    Can we agree with Jeff Speck that “cycle lanes behind head-in parking are basically suicidal”? (Walkable City, p.184.)

    • Jake

      The design is not perfect but it’s a huge upgrade from current conditions. The parking is actually back-angle parking, so drivers leaving parking spaces are actually facing towards the street, making it easier to check the bike lane and general traffic lane for traffic.

      I appreciate the reference to Walkable City, though. More people should be reading that book.

  4. Amanda Gillern

    Is asking the law to be enforced too much to ask?

    • Jake

      Yep, it is. Design governs behavior far better than laws do.

  5. Andrew Levitt

    William West: it’s back-in parking. But yes, bike lanes mixing with parking is a dubious design. I’ll take a back-in parking bike lane over a door-zone bike lane, but it’s a matter of bad versus worse. I wish we could have better.

  6. NoLibs Res

    Not everyone backs in to back-in parking, and many times driver will pull out fast into the bike lane to see for cars or trucks coming. Add a van or truck parked next to you and forget it.

    A bike plane that is separate and protected is what is needed. Other cities do it and so can Philly.

    If they MUST have back in parking, fine, then put the bike lane next to the sidewalk, a high concrete wall between it and the parking spaces, and voila!!! Protected bike lane, angled parking, and all are happy as a clam.

    Is that so hard to do?

  7. Lance Pawling

    For the sake of human life I implore you. You have the power to help save bikers lives, please do so!

Comments are closed.

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