On Monday, April 22, the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia joined AARP and other organizations in a walk audit of North Broad between Spring Garden and Fairmount Ave.  There were representatives from the Streets Department, including Commissioner Kristin del Rossi, PA Horticultural Society, the Clean Air Council, North Broad Renaissance, Philadelphia Corporation for Aging, and other organizations.  As part of AARP’s Livable Communities initiative, the walk audit is a tool they have developed to center the human experience of streets and help decision makers understand how to design for a better experience for all users of the road and sidewalk.

Walking South to North, on the West side of Broad, the group was responsible for assessing the physical infrastructure of the sidewalk, crosswalks, and road. We found the sidewalk to vary widely block by block. Some blocks had new cement that was smooth and easy to walk while other blocks had sidewalks that were broken and crumbling.  We also noticed some intersections with crosswalks in completely different phases of wear. At the intersection of Broad and Wallace, we noticed the west crosswalk was very worn down while the east was in good shape.  It should be noted that Wallace is a one-way street that flows west to east.  We also noticed that there had previously been “push to walk” buttons at various intersections across Broad but they had all been removed.  The instructional signs on how to use the buttons still remained.

Broad and Wallace looking at the missing button to cross Broad

Some of the big takeaways were that North Broad remains a challenging thoroughfare for the city and those who travel that stretch. By design, the streetscape encourages people to get through that stretch of road (and sidewalk) as quickly as possible and has few elements that encourage people to slow down and enjoy the experience. There are no lanes for cyclists, forcing people to either choose to ride the sidewalk or put their safety at risk and ride in the road.  

As Mayor Parker refocuses our city government on her effort to make Philadelphia the Safest, Cleanest, Greenest big city in the country, tools like AARP’s walk audit help to better inform our decisions.  Let’s continue to push for human-centered design in our streets and to share the streets together.

We also want to say thank you to AARP, the Greater Association of Realtors, Walnut Lane Strategies, Economy League, Emily Fredricks Foundation, Pipeline Philly and StreetBoxPHL for a productive legislative breakfast before the Walk Aduit. Council offices joined transportation professionals to talk about how we can work together to improve street safety for everyone ages 8 to 80. 

Share This