Would Philly Drivers Stand for a 20 MPH Speed Limit in the City?

That’s New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan. Is it the solution to reducing pedestrian deaths in Philadelphia?

Jon Geeting, who we last saw writing about ‘sneckdowns’ on East Passyunk Avenue, recently posted the harrowing map above: All of the city’s pedestrian-related crashes from 2008 to 2012. During this five-year span, there were 9,051 in Philadelphia — and that’s just ones that are reported. (Once, at 16th and JFK, I saw a woman get hit by a car, bounce off the hood and continue down the street. I caught up to her to see if she was okay and tell her she was a badass.)

On his site, Geeting also posts a map of the pedestrian deaths over that five year span; there were 158 city wide with 16 in Center City — even though downtown had the most crashes. This speaks to my badass pedestrian example: She could keep walking because cars can’t travel as fast in Center City. But get hit on Roosevelt Boulevard and you’re less likely to survive.

What can be done to lower pedestrian deaths? Geeting has an idea:

If Philadelphia’s City Council members would take responsibility for these traffic deaths and injuries the way NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio and some of his City Council allies are, the first thing they’d do is lower traffic speeds to 20 mph or less on city streets.

With how much power drivers hold in Philadelphia, this would be a tough sell. But perhaps there is a stop-gap. Wandering around in Center City Monday after my #SEPTAResidency, I saw some excellent downtown street theater: A pedestrian screaming at a car that had run the red light at Broad and Chestnut. I snapped some photos and and moved on.


When I posted the photo to Twitter and Facebook earlier this week, the response was unanimous: “Man, I wish I were there!” But it wasn’t because they wanted to watch — they wanted to join in. So perhaps this is your solution, Philadelphia: Curse out every driver you see until things get better! Eh, perhaps encouraging situations that could lead to road rage is not the best idea.

POLL: Should Philly adopt a 20 mph speed limit on city streets?

Follow @dhm on Twitter.

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