Take Action: A Safe Washington Avenue is at risk again– or at least two thirds of it is

by | May 26, 2022 | News, Biking in Philly, Vision Zero | 0 comments

In a blow to Vision Zero, after years of community engagement and despite a controversial compromise already made by the Kenney Administration, the proposal to make Washington Avenue safer is on the verge of collapse.  District Council Member Kenyatta Johnson is poised to betray thousands of his constituents by allowing two-thirds of Washington Avenue to be repaved with no lane reductions, traffic calming or protected bike lanes.   He needs to hear that this potential outcome is unacceptable and that he must take legislative action by June 7th.  We have created this action link to send a message to Council Member Johnson and to Mayor Kenney that the 2nd District must be included in the safety plan for Washington Avenue.

Background: On March 1, 2022,  the Office of Transportation, Infrastructure, and Sustainability (oTIS) released its final final plan for reconfiguring Washington Avenue: the revised mixed lane plan.  Once the roadway is repaved, oTIS proposes to lay down a combination of 3, 4 and 5 lanes and a protected bike lane on each side of the corridor across 17 of the 22 blocks.  This mixed lane plan was selected over the safer 3 lane configuration (originally announced in fall of 2021) primarily because of community reaction against the 3 lane proposal. The mixed lane option is a compromise that offers a much improved level of safety for everyone over the current 5 lane existing condition.

While legislation is not needed for the protected bike lane or the lane configuration itself, City Council must approve changes to the curb parking and loading regulations before paving can start so that the new lane configuration can work.  Otherwise, double parking and loading/unloading in travel lanes will cause chaotic congestion and dangerous conditions.

What happened today: This morning, Council Member Squilla introduced the curb parking and loading legislation that would make the mixed lane configuration work in his district. This legislation includes 4th St through 11 St on Washington avenue. Council Member Johnson did not submit concurrent legislation for the 2nd District. 

We applaud Council Member Squilla for submitting his legislation and thank him for his leadership.  But, Councilman Johnson has not agreed yet to include the 2nd District in the plan because he did not submit his own legislation.  After all of the time invested in accommodating community input, he is poised to reject safety, something that thousands of his constituents have spent years asking for.

If Councilman Johnson doesn’t allow new parking regulations to apply to the 2nd District, the section of Washington Avenue between Gray’s Ferry and 11th will remain a five lane roadway with a non separated painted bike lane.  It will not have any traffic calming measures such as fewer lanes, corner wedges, bus islands or a protected bike lane on both sides of the street.  It will remain on the High Injury Network that is dangerous for motorists, cyclists, transit users, and pedestrians.

There is still time to remedy the situation.  Council Member Johnson can amend Council Member Squilla’s ordinance to include his District at the Streets and Services Committee on June 7th.

Please write to Council Member Johnson asking him to prioritize the safety of all of his constituents by amending Council Member Squilla’s legislation to include the 2nd District.  The message will also be sent to Mayor Kenney.

TAKE ACTION and send an email Council member Kenyatta Johnson and Mayor Kenney now.

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