Note: this blog post is from 2020 and the petition linked within has been unpublished. If you are looking for the link to the petition calling for MLK Drive to be closed to motor vehicles in 2021, click here.
As the quarantine rages on amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Philadelphians are increasingly accessing the city’s trail system as a means to safely get out of the house for physical and mental exercise.
And those trails are quickly becoming packed — in some cases, more packed than could be deemed medically responsible. Staying six feet apart from fellow trail users, at least yesterday afternoon, proved increasingly difficult as I personally rode along the Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk and trail. We have heard similar complaints from cyclists and pedestrians using the trails as of late: There just isn’t enough room for all the demand right now.
That’s why we are calling upon the city to shut down Martin Luther King Drive, immediately, to motor vehicles, opening it up for cyclists, pedestrians, and other trail users. The Drive, which closes on weekends beginning April 1 each year, would be a great way for trail users to utilize a city street for exercise while maintaining six feet of social distancing.
The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia has reached out to the mayoral administration and the Councilmember representing the area comprising Martin Luther King Jr Drive to figure out how we can get MLK Drive closed to motor vehicles.
Here’s the petition:
CLOSE MLK DRIVE TO MOTOR VEHICLES
Note: Public health recommendations around mitigating the spread of COVID-19 may be subject to change. This content may not reflect the current recommendations. For current recommendations around social distancing and outdoor activity, please check the CDC website.
Thank you, BCGP for pointing out the highest and best use of the MLK Drive; this change would certainly honor its namesake, Martin Luther King, by creating a road of peace and of equality and also a place that would truly serve Philadelphians and visitors to our City of Brotherly Love – not for a frantic few minutes boxed inside an automobile fueled by world-destroying combustion, but instead outside, in free air. Mayor Kenney, members of City Council: it’s time. Open M.L. King’s Drive to walkers and runners, and to cyclists and wheelchair users – all moving “by their own glad effort.”* – Michael McGettigan / Trophy Bikes PHL
*phrase from Harold Moore, British cycling sage of the early 20th C.
Great idea! Why not close Kelly as well – on weekends? It closes often for regattas, why not bikers and walkers? I know, I know. One battle at a time. Keep up the good work!
SEPTA is moving to a Saturday schedule; why not MLK Drive too?
I totally agree with the idea to shut MLK Drive to traffic now. I cycle both sides of the river every day on my commute. There is very little traffic on MLK at the moment, and the footpath on the the Kelly Drive side of the river is becoming more crowded with people. Closing MLK to traffic now, will allow people to get “fresh air” and exercise at a safe distance from each other.
A scientific rationale for closing MLK to traffic to allow people to exercise and get “fresh air” at a safe distance, is that it is likely that the ultra violet (UV) component of sunlight is detrimental to the virus when the virus is shed from the body and exposed to sunlight. UV light can damage the RNA of the virus. There is evidence for this from work with the influenza “flu” virus, which is also an RNA virus.
Reference. The Journal of Infectious Diseases, Volume 221, Issue 3, 1 February 2020 The Influence of Simulated Sunlight on the Inactivation of Influenza Virus in Aerosols.
Please do this!
Over the past year, people of all ages, races, shapes, and walks of life are enjoying MLK at all times of the week. I even saw a bald eagle there yesterday! As the Schuylkill path gets more and more crowded, MLK is even more important as a safe space for exercise and to promote healthy lifestyles for everyone.
Both of the links to the Petition are currently broken! Hurry and fix them while there’s momentum, and the story is in the news!
Fixed! Thank you for your note and support. https://bicyclecoalition.secure.nonprofitsoapbox.com/reimagine-mlk