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The South of South Neighborhood Association joined a growing chorus of Registered Community Organizations, advocacy groups, City Councilmembers and Philadelphia citizens, calling upon the City of Philadelphia to closing the outer lanes of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway to keep citizens safe.

The South of South Neighborhood Association (SOSNA) supports the effort of the Center City Residents Association, Logan Square Neighborhood Association, Fitler Square Improvement Association, and other partners to close the outer lanes of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway to motor vehicles so that it can be safely utilized by pedestrians and cyclists,”writes Dave Zega, SOSNA Board Chair, in a recently-written letter to Mayor Jim Kenney. “Many residents of our neighborhood utilize the Schuylkill Banks Trail. We agree with increasing access to it by providing them with vehicle-free space to exercise while maintaining social distance.”

When the COVID pandemic began, the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia successfully advocated for closing Martin Luther King Jr. Drive to motor vehicles, and opening it to people to safely socially distance while getting outdoors. Since that time, more and more people have been going outside to get some air during the pandemic, and the city’s trails have become overcrowded.

The Bicycle Coalition then joined with other advocacy groups, including 5th Square, Clean Air Council, and Feet First Philly, calling upon the city to close more streets to motor vehicles, and gained the support of six City Councilmembers and a host of RCOs. Our organizations released a map showing streets around the city which, we believe, can be closed to motor vehicles using minimal city resources without having to re-route SEPTA buses.

Our map includes the outer lanes of the Ben Franklin Parkway, but we believe more streets in more neighborhoods around the city need to be closed to give more citizens access to open streets.

But the City of Philadelphia has yet to close more streets, even as MLK Drive and other park roads have become crowded.

Following Philadelphia’s initial lead, cities around the country have begun closing streets to vehicles to keep their residents safe. A piece in WHYY today explained the situation in Philadelphia.

Read SOSNA’s letter here.

Randy LoBasso

Author

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

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