Philly Is An Urbanist Utopia Right Now
Philadelphians are taking the city’s streets back from cars this weekend.
As Pope Francis makes his way through the region, major highways and roads in the area have been shut down. There are very few vehicles out there in Center City, and volume is light even outside the “traffic box.” Overnight, that’s created a whole different city: Blissed-out pedestrians are walking down the middle of roads as big as Broad and Market, and hordes of people are crossing the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. Cyclists are giddy by the extra room. Some residents are even turning the streets into impromptu picnic spots and playgrounds.
Some say Philadelphia looks post-apocalyptic right now. But viewed from another lens, this is an urbanist’s utopia. Cyclists, urban planners and open-streets advocates are freaking out about the quasi-carless city on social media.
#PopeInPhilly is giving a glimpse of what fewer cars, #openstreets, & #sharedspace would look like. And it's awesome. pic.twitter.com/4yXz9V9Kr1
— Jonas (@JonasMcivitas) September 26, 2015
This whole #PopenStreets thing is phenomenal. @JimFKenney seriously this plus @septa let's ban cars all the time pic.twitter.com/ko1D0CxRfZ
— Victoria (@108_Victoria_St) September 26, 2015
Bike people and would-be bike people, we've got the run of the place #PopeInPhilly http://t.co/ybfD1Av3Rw pic.twitter.com/y1mUo85EwR
— Jared Brey (@jaredbrey) September 25, 2015
Large group of pilgrims from Newark makes its way crossing BFB to attend #PopeInPhilly (photo for @NewsWorksWHYY ) pic.twitter.com/soA49bSFgM
— Bastiaan Slabbers (@BasSlabbers) September 26, 2015
Of course, not everyone is a fan of the closed streets. For Philadelphia Daily News columnist Stu Bykofsky, it’s a literal hellscape. He joked that the papal lockdown is a “plot by SEPTA to get us onto mass transit” or a “big undercover takeover by the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia to ban all cars from the center of town.”
There’s reason to believe that a pretty powerful guy is on the side of the urbanists, though.
Jim Kenny & @tspagnoli at the end of the pope ride. 'We should do this even when the pope's not here' says Kenny. pic.twitter.com/MjpK0W7NnT
— Inga Saffron (@IngaSaffron) September 26, 2015
Oh, and this powerful guy, too.
#papalpresser: @Pontifex feels cars are barrier to the people and that's why he likes open cars, like the jeep & little eco cars.
— Kristen Johanson (@KristenJohanson) September 26, 2015