Tell Us About Your Experience Using MLK Drive

by | January 19, 2021 | Biking in Philly | 19 comments

As Philadelphians of all stripes know by now, Martin Luther King Jr. Drive was shut to motor vehicles on March 20, 2020, and has been open to people ever since. The Drive has gone back to its original purpose: A park for people. Now, we want to hear about your experience on MLK Drive.

MLK Drive has been used, according to electronic counts conducted by WSP Engineering, by more than 5,000 people on weekdays (and many more than that on weekends) — a 1,300 percent increase from pre-COVID levels.

Many people around the city have told us MLK being closed has been the only thing that got them through the pandemic, which totally humbles us, since we advocated early on for opening the Drive up to people.

On Sunday, Bicycle Coalition staff and volunteers were out on MLK handing out bike lights and asking passers by to take a survey about MLK Drive, which we intend to use for a future campaign. But we’d also like to hear from folks we didn’t necessarily run into on Sunday, to hear about your experiences, as well

Here’s the survey! 

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  1. Christopher Gannon

    Like many affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, I turned to outdoor exercise as an outlet for stress relief and relaxation. I’ve been running on the Schuylkill River Trail and the MLK Drive running path for years, but the opening of all of MLK Drive to runners and bikers has been a true godsend. It’s honestly one of the best running/biking trails in the country, and if we’ve learned anything in the past year, it’s that we do not need MLK Drive as a road for cars anymore. It should be kept open to pedestrians and cyclists as a part of the Fairmount Park system permanently.

  2. Adam Stamm

    While my usage has gone down a bit during the winter, I rode to MLK a couple times a week up until November. This ride replaced my gym. It was incredible to have a space that I could ride 10 miles or more without having to drive to get there or worry about cars. I only hope that the space is available long into the fututure.

  3. Kyle cassidy

    I’ve enjoyed the view, the scenery, and the socially distanced community I’ve had exercising on MLK drive during the pandemic. It’s been marvelous to have such a wide space for runners, walkers and pedestrians. I hope the cars never come back. It’s one slice of paradise I can appreciate foot by foot.

  4. David Lowe

    It is so wonderful having the drive closed to cars! ….but the pot hole patching they did is awful!

  5. Michael McGettigan

    The opening of the Martin Luther King Drive is one of the most important developments for this city’s transportation equity in decades. It connects Center City and its arts gateway to numerous neighborhoods, creating a safe space in a time when our streets have become more and more hostile places for cyclists and pedestrians. This hostility is partly due to lighter traffic and decreased enforcement leading to speeding, and very much due to the increase in oversized SUVs and trucks (both passenger trucks and big commercial trucks) on our streets. The Car-Free should be made 24/7 permanently, and other Park roads connecting to it should be freed from car domination. • • • Also: The MLK is unbalanced. It is long past time to close the East River Drive to motor vehicles on weekends year-round, creating a true cyclovia and as a step towards a full-time closure. Cyclists and pedestrians need their own spaces and after 50+ years of giving in to motorists’ demands (and the associated loss of PHL population), the MLK is a sign of hope. Riding on the MLK is a dream, an escape from the danger and anger of car-dominated city streets, where young and old can enjoy moving together in peace and safety. The huge increase in cycling and walking the MLK (even in pandemic times, and with little promotion) proves that this change was the right decision–one that should be made permanent and expanded to help more Philadelphians, as well as visitors to our Green Country Town.

  6. Carla McKenzie

    I absolutely love that MLK Drive has been closed to car traffic during the pandemic. It’s given me a safe place to ride my bike and to stay fit throughout. Please keep it closed if it does not come at great cost to the city!!!

  7. Andrew T Lenton

    I am a Phildelphia expatriate living in New York City. Bicycling along the river drives is one of the things I miss most about Philadelphia. being confined to the bkie path on MLK Drive used to be a problem because of the bumps caused by tree roots, so having the freedom to ride on the smoother surface of the roadway was much better, in addition to not having to endure the noise and emissions from motor vehicle traffic.

  8. Isabel Pilling

    it has been a good send in co-vid. already used it on weekends prior to pandemic. now ride bike there during the week. it being open is keeping me sane and healthy. thanks! grateful to live in philadelphia!!

  9. Sean Suter

    Having MLK be a car-free zone has truly gifted a new world-class park to the city. I would absolutely be in favor of keeping this a largely pedestrian and bicycle centric space in perpetuity.

  10. Nicholas Olimpo

    Having MLK closed to foot and bike traffic is ideally what Philadelphia should have been using it for all along. I think there’s enough people who utilize this space to justify it being a permeant bike and running space only. I really believe maintaining this road and trail is essential for introducing people into what Fairmount Park has to offer while allowing for greater safety and enjoyment in outdoor activities. I’ve certainly used this space nearly everyday after it was shut down during the beginning of the Pandemic and it’s going to be really sad to have it back open to cars. The only thing that needs to happen after the repave is some new lights.

  11. Yejia Zhang

    I ride on MLK drive every day, since the pandemic!!! I hope that the city decides that the MLK drive is permanently closed for motor vehicles.

  12. Daniel Sandroni

    I am 13 years old. I love riding with my family on MLK drive (we see birds and animals). Hope it is closed to cars forever.

  13. Suzanne Hagner

    I agree with all the comments about how wonderful it is to have MLK closed to vehicles this past year. The SRT along Kelly Drive is very crowed with users and MLK allows for much more safety. Also Kelly Drive has had crashes from speeding drivers and some vehicles have landed on the Trail itself…if a trail user had been there they most likely be dead or injured….The roar of drivers racing on Kelly Drive is also obnoxious….MLK is quiet and so much safer. I like seeing parents with their children riding on MLK…….

  14. Jennifer Budd

    Having it open is fantastic. It is a safe way to get to and explore West Fairmount park. Also, as a runner, I enjoyed it as well because there is plenty of room for bikes and people, which is not always the case on the trail. It made for a safer and healthier situation all around.

  15. Cesar Nunez

    Along with many other people, I use MLK drive every single day to walk, run, or bike. It has made the pandemic much more bearable.

    It has been wonderful having MLK closed to cars, has helped open up the city, and has enabled Philadelphia residents to enjoy the outdoors a lot more!

    Please keep it closed to cars and let residents enjoy this beautiful Drive!!

  16. Patrick Nellis

    I live in Manayunk and have loved using MLK drive to ride into center city on numerous occasions. I would love to see this become a permanent no car zone. It would improve the quality of life for so many Philadelphians and become an attraction for people thinking about moving here.

  17. Dirk Ave

    MLK Drive as well as Kelly Drive should be redesigned to prevent both roads from being a car race track for folks going in and out of the city. MLK Drive closure has been the best decision in Philly ever, let’s prevent it from being a race track again. Kelly Drive should be a 2 lane road not a 4 lane “highway”. The extra space could be used for a dedicated separate bike lane for all bike racers. The extra space would also provide better parking at boathouse row. Having MLK Drive and Kelly Drive as massive roadways to allow more car traffic into the City is outdated.

  18. Chloe

    Your survey did not ask about use of MLK drive with kids. It is REALLY wonderful and helpful to have a place where parents and caregivers can safely bike side-by-side with young cyclists. It is even nicer than trails, where mostly we have to ride single file. We love MLK drive closed to motor vehicles!

  19. Patrick Boyle



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