Unlike the fast-moving traffic of Washington Avenue, improvements to this highly traveled arterial roadway have moving at a snail’s pace. For the past year and a half, the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia and community members have been advocating for a comprehensive restriping plan to improve safety conditions for motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists alike, but so far all that has been seen is slow, intermittent action from the city.
Since 2013 there have been six public meetings with city officials on this issue. The community’s concerns are being heard but major positive results are yet to be seen. This past summer, we made a push to get something done before the restriping period ended. Well, we got something: A restriping, reestablishing a shoulder adjacent to the parking lane which almost counts as markings for where the bike lanes have faded. It’s something that will make the Avenue slightly safer during the interim period, as we wait for real infrastructure on the quickly-changing street.
The data regarding Washington Avenue has been studied and repeated many times but it is worth putting it out there until conditions are improved. Here are the numbers from PennDOT and the Philadelphia Police Department respectively:
Reportable crashes between 2010 and 2014: 212. Of these crashes 234 people were injured and 4 people died.
“Non-reportable” crashes between 2010 and 2014: 1,425.
Our most recent data from our yearly bike count has found that the intersection of 11th and Washington sees an average of 150 cyclists per hour, 4% of which were Indego cyclists.
It’s a complicated issue with many party’s interests at stake. Washington is a major industrial thoroughfare and residential as well as commercial development has been increasing more and more over the years.
Multimodal traffic will also increase with three potentially major projects in the works which will affect every stretch of the Avenue. The Franklin Chocolate Factory on the 2100 hundred block was recently purchased by Washington Real Estate L.P. and may see future development. Councilman Johnson has introduced legislation to rezone the massive vacant lot on the 1300 block of Washington for commercial use which would start what’s being called the “South Broad Street Gateway.”
Midwood Investment and Development has plans for 5 story mixed use building at 9th and Washington which could include 70 apartments and 32,000 square feet of retail space.
When the Washington Avenue Transportation and Parking Study was completed in the Spring of 2014 one of its goals was to produce plans that would enable the Streets Department to move ahead with restriping of the Avenue in next 1-2 years.
Right now, that two year mark looks plausible but definitive plans are always changing. At the most recent community meeting on September 3rd, we reported Angela Dixon of the Mayor’s Office of Transportation stating permanent changes to Washington Avenue could be completed by the summer of 2016.
If that’s the case it will be a long time coming but it will be a welcomed improvement for everyone’s safety.