It’s Official: Philly Is Getting a Car-Free Open Streets Event This Fall

Get ready to run, bike, walk and jump with joy across over eight miles of car-free streets.

The car-free Ben Franklin Bridge during Pope Francis's visit | Photo by Adjua Fisher

The car-free Ben Franklin Bridge during Pope Francis’s visit | Photo by Adjua Fisher

We’ve been dreaming about getting another shot at running, jumping and biking across car-free streets like we did during Pope Francis’s visit last September for nearly a year now. And this morning, Open Streets PHL, the nonprofit that’s been pushing for a car-free open streets event — where city streets go car-free for a chunk of time, allowing residents to roam free — since last September, sent out an email announcing the big news that Philly will be getting its very first official open streets event this September. Say it with me, people: Eeeeeeeeeee!

The Office of Transportation and Infrastructure Services, responsible for the actual planning of the event, actually first announced the date and some details on the route last night. The car-free shindig, called Philly Free Streets, will go down on Saturday, September 24th from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Upward of eight miles of Philly streets will be (mostly) closed off to cars and open for folks to walk, run and bike as they please; there will also be activities held across the space. The route looks like this: South Street will be closed to cars from Front Street to the South Street Bridge (!!), then the route will take folks along the Schuylkill River Trail to MLK Drive, eventually making its way up to Belmont Plateau.

As PlanPhilly notes, certain intersections of South Street will allow traffic to cross (after all, the goal is to be able to do this again, and pissing off a bunch of drivers is not the way to make that happen), but the streets will mostly be closed to cars. Open Street PHL’s announcement email says the route is nine miles while PlanPhilly’s announcement says 8.1; either way, it’s a nice, long stretch. We will take it!

When we talked to Alon Abramson, co-chair of the Open Streets PHL board back in December, he clued us in to the fact that one of Open Streets PHL’s big focuses was fitness — and not just walking. Obviously, the event will get people strolling in the streets, but the hope is also to provide access to free fitness activities at hubs speckled throughout the car-free space. As he said then of Open Streets PHL’s goals, “It’s really about fitness and about people being active.”

Naturally, folks from Philly’s fitness world have already started planning their own fitness events for the big day, too. For one, the Philly Distance Runners are planning an Open Streets PHL 15K/30K Fat Ass Run. As they say on the Facebook page for the event, “What better way to enjoy the freedom of zero car traffic on the wonderful streets of Philly than by lacing up your favorite running shoes and running those open streets?” We couldn’t agree more.

We’ll let you know just what’s in store when it comes fitness activities at Philly Free Streets once we know, and we’re sure the fitness community will be quick to plan more events, too. So stay tuned, friends!

Now, excuse us while we go dream about all the car-free frolicking in our future.

Like what you’re reading? Stay in touch with Be Well Philly—here’s how: