On Thursday, not long after that day’s Vision Zero Conference panels had ended, we contacted Mayor Kenney’s office to drop off 5,274 names and messages we’ve gathered (so far), asking the city to keep MLK Drive open to people.
Our petition to keep MLK Drive open to people garnered the most signatures in the least amount of time, ever. It’s clear MLK Drive as a street for people is something the people of Philadelphia want.
Then, on Monday, the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia and AARP-PA presented on five Vision Zero priorities we are advocating for during the current legislative season, to City Council. These priorities include leaving MLK Drive open, as well as restoring Vision Zero budget cuts and eliminating legislative barriers to safer biking and pedestrian infrastructure.
You can see our priorities via StoryMap here.
The push to keep MLK Drive open is going to involve a lot more steps from here. We are continuing to meet with civic organizations and businesses around and near MLK Drive to figure out the plan that works best for them.
We are also aware that a growing push among private motor vehicle users in cities all over the world to undo much of the progress made in reallocating public space is under way.
Making MLK Drive happen has always been an uphill battle. It’s a challenge that is worth it. 2020 was, to put it lightly, a bad year. But having MLK Drive open to people and closed to motor vehicles helped keep a lot of people both physically and mentally stable. It also served as a public gathering space and opened up more users to West Fairmount Park. MLK Drive has the potential to serve Philadelphia as a commuting and recreational path; an open space for people to gather along the river banks; a tourism attraction; and an ongoing entrance to Fairmount Park.
With the amount of people who use MLK Drive daily (about 5,000 of you, and growing) and on weekends (nearly 10,000 of you, and growing), we are confident change is afoot. Stay tuned over the next few months as we may be calling upon you again to send a message regarding MLK Drive and joining us for an MLK Drive experience.
Yes, keep MLK Drive closed to car traffic and open to bikers, skaters, walkers, and runners! But also put in some decent bathroom facilities, add a source of clean water to drink, and fix those damn pot holes.