MLK Drive: Closed to Motor Vehicles, Open to (Socially-Distanced) People

by | March 20, 2020 | Biking in Philly | 6 comments

Bike in Philly

Over the last few days, we, and hundreds of Philadelphians, have been making the case that MLK Jr. Drive should be closed to motor vehicles during the quarantine period. The City of Philadelphia listened, loud and clear, and closed MLK, between Falls Bridge and Eakins Oval, Friday night at 8pm. The road will stay closed for the foreseeable future.

In a statement from the City of Philadelphia, it was noted the 24-hour closure is needed for citizens’ well-being.

“The City of Philadelphia strongly encourages residents to stay indoors as much as possible. However we recognize that physical activity is important to wellbeing, and under current restrictions, are providing opportunities for park and trail use,” the City’s statement read. “We encourage residents to please maintain social distancing in the course of outdoors recreation. Washing your hands for at least 20 seconds or using hand sanitizer is advised after every visit to an open outdoor facility.”

Bicycling on the Kelly Drive Trail is up 471 percent, compared to last year. The trails are only about 12 feet wide, meaning while so many of us are using them for recreation and transportation at this time (since we’ve been encouraged to stay off public transportation), it’s been difficult to maintain the safe six feet of social distance.

Earlier today, the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia released a petition, asking the city to close Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive during the pandemic.

In the course of just a few hours, nearly 1,000 people responded, signing the petition.

The City was quick in their response, and we thank them for looking out for all Philadelphians as we do our best to get through this situation.

We have no idea what the next few weeks, or months, will look like in the U.S., and the world. But we do know that with huge portions of the economy shut down and people spending so much time in our homes, we could all use some relief. The region’s Circuit Trails system has been a relief to so many over the last week, helping us all get in some much-needed exercise for our bodies, and our brains.

Thank you to Mayor Jim Kenney, Philadelphia’s Office of Transportation, Infrastructure and Sustainability, and the entire Philadelphia government for listening to our pleas.

As for MLK Drive, we hope opening the entire drive to all people will help us all recreate and travel while maintaining a safe six-foot distance between one another. Be careful, wash your hands, and let’s get through this together.

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.

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  1. Ryan Sullivan

    And the townspeople rejoiced!

    Randy, than you!!

  2. Lee

    Any recommendations on where we can park and start to ride for those of us not familiar with the area??

    • fred Rothman

      Montgomery Ave. is normally the only access by auto to park on the MLK. Just keep your speed down to under 15MPH at all times.

  3. Michael Lehr

    Thanks for getting MLK closed. – I am 72 and it is positively dangerous to cycle on the Kelly Drive path because of overcrowding and general unawareness of novices both on foot and on bikes (not to mention social distancing). Can anything h be done about joggers and cyclists using noise cancellation headphones?? Thanks again

  4. Fred Rothman

    Celebrate Spring & the cherry blossoms. Go for a bike ride on the MLK Drive. Wide open spaces allow for social distancing along the four mile roadway.

  5. William Edmonds

    I would like to access to river drives at some time however I can no long ride a bike (balance problems) and can only walk short distances. Would it be possible for vehicles with handicapped stickers at some time?


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