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On Wednesday, a coalition of advocacy organizations across Philadelphia, and numerous City Councilmembers, released a letter to the Kenney Administration, calling upon the City to open up more streets for safe social distancing.

The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, 5th Square, the Clean Air Council, Feet First Philly and Nate Hommel of University City District worked together to put together a list and map of streets we believe can be opened up to people right now, using minimal city resources.

Citizens in neighborhoods all over Philadelphia have continued to go outside — as is allowed, and even encouraged — during the COVID-19 pandemic and attempt the CDC-recommended six feet of social distancing.

But, unfortunately, it’s often easier said than done. Philadelphia’s sidewalks are small and often do not allow for six feet of space when passing, which has led to people walking in the streets, to safely pass one another, whether they’re out with their families, getting exercise, or walking to the grocery store.

We think there is a better way. The Kenney Administration has already taken the positive measure of closing Martin Luther King Jr. Drive to motor vehicles to help unclog the trails along the Schuylkill River. This has been met with an overwhelmingly positive response. But not every Philadelphian has access to MLK Drive.

That’s why our organizations are asking that more streets be closed to motor vehicles, to allow for safer passageway in neighborhoods. We believe it’s especially important these streets give people using parks better access, and more space to breathe and practice safe social distancing. At this point, the weather is only going to get warmer, schools are officially out until September, and and our public spaces are going to get increasingly stressed. We need to prepare for this.

Read the full letter to the Kenney Administration here.

Randy LoBasso

Author

Randy LoBasso is the policy director at the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia.

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