One Big Way Philly’s Next Official Open Streets Event Will (Hopefully) Be Better

We'll keep our fingers crossed.

Philly Free Streets

Back in September of 2016, Philly got its very first official open streets event, Philly Free Streets, put on by the city’s Office of Transportation and Infrastructure Systems. Insert all the hands-clapping emoji here.

Now, as PlanPhilly reports, a new report from PennPraxis details how successful the event really was in meeting its goals. The report was presented at an event on Thursday, and the folks over at PlanPhilly detail a slew of important takeaways here — a whopping 30,000 people took to the streets during the five hours they were closed to cars; diversity was lacking, which may be a result of the route; the majority of businesses said they’d be happy for another open streets event — but the one detail from PlanPhilly’s reporting on the event presenting the report that really caught our eye was this:

Charlotte Castle, a project manager at OTIS, said one of the goals of the next Free Streets event would be in “making this really a transportation program… so that people can really begin to imagine their streets not just for people driving but also for people walking through neighborhood and people biking and having families on bikes.” To that end, Castle said they were looking at ways to separate faster moving bikes from the more leisurely walkers.

When I read that, I may or may not have screamed “Hallelujah!” at my computer screen. See, while the first Philly Free Streets was an awesome sight to see, it was not an easy thing to move through. My friend and I took to the route on our bikes and, after attempting to pedal through the sea of humans, moving in all directions at all paces, we eventually gave up and submitted to walking pretty much until we reached MLK Drive, which is obviously much wider than South Street or the SRT and was also way less crowded.

I left the event feeling the same way I feel when I leave Trader Joe’s on a Sunday afternoon. Claustrophobic and wondering, “WHY isn’t there a better way?!?!”

But there is a better way: To separate different forms of human traffic, which it sounds like they will aim to do come the next event. VICTORY. Now, we’ll just be over here waiting for OTIS to spill the beans on the date.

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