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The intersection of Trenton Avenue, York Street, and Frankford Avenue, from Frankford Ave (via Google)

The intersection of Trenton Avenue, York Street, and Frankford Avenue, from Frankford Ave (via Google)

East York Street, which sort of may divide Fishtown and Kensington, or Fishtown and Olde Richmond, depending on whom you talk to, is getting some welcomed safety improvements this month—and they can’t come too soon.

After a recent meeting between the Fishtown Neighbors Association, the Olde Richmond Civic Association, the Streets Department and Councilman Mark Squilla’s office, road plans were put together and are expected to be done at the end of the month.

Improvements:

  • 8’ by 5.9’ painted STOP legends to streets at intersections before crosswalks
  • Bike lanes, parking lanes and crosswalks from Trenton Ave. to Thompson Street.
  • Additional diagonal gore markings at Thompson and York, where there is currently no crosswalk. (These markings are being put in to prevent cars from riding side-by-side on York.)

“This is super exciting for so many reasons,” says Jenn Bazydlo, who was involved at the August 4 meeting. “For me personally, it is great as it connects the sharrows on Tulip and Cedar almost all the way to the bike lanes on Aramingo, which is how I travel from lower Fishtown and Center City to my house…On a bigger level, it was exciting that people acknowledged bike lanes as an effective traffic calming tool.”

Like Jenn, I’m personally pretty psyched about the traffic light closest to my house getting a makeover.

When crossing York Street on the east side of at the York/Trenton Ave./Frankford Ave. six-point intersection, the light is extremely short — about five seconds. In fact, it’s too short for any pedestrian to safely make it from one side of York Street to the other.

“A work order is being prepared to modify the signal timing at this location to better accommodate pedestrians and improve traffic flow,” according to the Fishtown Neighbors Association newsletter concerning the August 4 meeting. “Pedestrian countdown devices will not be added at this time. The work order for traffic light timing will be placed in the queue for installation. The Streets Department will coordinate with the signal supervisor to request that the work be expedited in anticipation of the start of the school year.”

All this work is expected to be done by August 30. The funds come directly from the Automated Red Light Enforcement program.

Long-term, more ideas were shared to make York Street a better, safer street for all road users. They include additional, physical changes to the six-point intersection at York/Frankford/Trenton, and physical barriers at “key intersections” along York Street.

These changes are being made amid protected bike lane improvements being proposed just a few blocks northeast, on East Lehigh Avenue. “Under future ARLE project, Streets will be considering intersection modification work at York/Trenton/Frankford to make it safer for pedestrians and for the purpose of traffic calming,” continues the FNA email.

The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia has been involved in some internal discussion as to what can be done at the six-point intersection, at which people in cars regularly blow through red lights to try and “beat” the yellow, and drivers unfamiliar with the area are clueless as to navigate the area.

Research director John Boyle, Development Coordinator Jorge Brito and I discussed plans for a traffic circle at the intersection and protected bike lanes up and down East York Street, which Boyle put together:

A rough sketch of a traffic circle at the Trenton/York/Frankford intersection

A rough sketch of a traffic circle at the Trenton/York/Frankford intersection

This is a long-term solution to the intersection that we’re still discussing, but either way, we’re very glad to see some safety improvements along York Street in the Riverwards and congratulations to the community groups that helped make it happen.

Randy LoBasso

Author

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