At Philly’s public pools, lifeguard shortage leads to long waits

The region is about to experience its first real hot spell of the season, and that means pool time for many Philadelphians. This year, however, swimmers can expect to wait in line at some city pools. The reason: not enough lifeguards.

As it has for the last few summers, the city’s Parks and Recreation Department has struggled to hire enough lifeguards. As of Tuesday, the city had 350 lifeguard spots filled out of the 400 needed to be fully staffed.

Read more at Philadelphia Inquirer

Ban on single-use plastic bags introduced in Philly Council with 15-cent fee on other bags

A sweeping ban on single-use plastic bags was introduced Thursday in Philadelphia City Council in a bill that would also impose a relatively hefty 15-cent fee on any recyclable paper bag or other reusable bags a merchant might provide to a customer.

The ban, if adopted, would apply to supermarkets, convenience stores, service stations, department stores, dollar stores, clothing stores, restaurants, food trucks, farmers’ markets, dry cleaners, and delivery service.

Read more at Philadelphia Inquirer.

Philadelphia to see dockless bike rentals as soon as this fall

While the future of e-scooters in Philadelphia hangs in the balance, the city is moving forward with a pilot program for dockless bike sharing with proposed regulations.

Barring any requested public hearings, the pilot could begin as soon as the fall, said Chris Puchalsky, director of Policy and Strategic Initiatives for the city’s Office of Transportation, Infrastructure, and Sustainability. The office will oversee the program along with the Streets Department.

Read more at Plan Philly

Explosions rip through South Philadelphia refinery, triggering major fire and injuring 5

A series of explosions and a massive fire ripped through a South Philadelphia oil refinery early Friday, injuring five workers.

Firefighters contained the blaze at Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES) within a couple hours, but it was still burning Friday evening.

Read more at Philadelphia Inquirer

Sample ballots show cracks in Philly’s still-powerful Democratic machine

After every election, thousands of sample ballots litter the unswept streets of Philadelphia, seemingly without purpose. Just hours prior, those same scraps of paper were imbued with power.

Handed out by campaign workers in hopes of swinging votes in their candidate’s direction, these mock-up endorsement sheets are a hard-to-quantify force in the matrix of factors that influence results on Election Day.

But one thing about sample ballots is certain: The city’s Democratic machine is still strong when it comes to electing its endorsed candidates, but it’s not what it used to be. Rescinded endorsements, factions within certain wards, voters bucking the party’s recommendations — there’s a lot happening beneath these paper slips.

Campaigns continue to pay big money to ensure their candidate’s names are on as many ballots as possible.

Do they even matter? It appears voters think so, even if they don’t end up swaying any decisions. When Billy Penn and WHYY asked voters to send in sample ballots for the May primary election, we received hundreds of submissions. They came from various wards, political action committees, unions and even the candidates themselves.

Our collection (hosted here) isn’t a big enough pool to say anything definitive, but there were parts of the city where the paper ballot clearly served as a guiding light — and others where it arguably did not.

Read more at Billy Penn

Traffic deaths ticked up in Pennsylvania in 2018 pedestrian accidents senior citizen drivers are two reasons why

After reaching a generational low in 2017, traffic deaths across Pennsylvania ticked up last year, led by big increases in struck pedestrians and deaths in crashes involving drivers age 65 and over.

The statewide death toll totaled 1,190 in 2018.

While a 4.7 percent jump from the 1,137 deaths recorded in 2017, it’s still the third-lowest total in the last 20 years.

Danger signs.

The rise in the overall count was fueled by a jump of 34 percent in pedestrian fatalities, from 150 to 201; while fatalities in crashes involving the 65-to-74-year-old cohort exploded from 124 to 188.

Read more at Penn Live

Mayor Applauds City Council Action on Nine Complete Streets Projects

PHILADELPHIA – Mayor Jim Kenney and Deputy Managing Director for Transportation Mike Carroll applaud the approval by City Council of enabling legislation for nine Complete Street projects that increase safety for people who walk, bicycle, take transit, and drive. This is the most bills passed forward out of Council for safety improvements on record.

The projects include roadway redesign elements to reduce driver speeding and significant pedestrian improvements designed to establish safe roadway crossings and shorten crossing distances. Several projects convert vehicle and parking lanes to protected bicycle lanes, which define space within the roadway for people who bicycle and increase predictability for all roadway users.

Read more at Mayor's Office of Communications

Philadelphia cracking down on Center City traffic congestion

Another crackdown on traffic laws took effect Monday in Center City.

It is part of an ongoing effort to ease congestion.

Philadelphia and SEPTA police, along with the Philadelphia Parking Authority, will be ticketing for double parking, illegal turns, and driving in bus lanes.

The effort focuses on issues that can trigger traffic congestion - specifically double parking and vehicles improperly using a bus and right turn only lane.

They will prioritize parking enforcement on Chestnut Street between 23rd and 7th and Market Street between 13th and 7th.

Read more at 6ABC.

Odunde still drawing new fans, 44 years after first street festival

Alex Sierra stumbled upon Odunde. He and his family travel to Philly from their home in Brooklyn often, he said, but didn’t know about the massive African-American street festival until it took over South Street on Sunday.

“It’s good,” said Sierra, whose Fort Greene neighborhood starred in several hit films by longtime resident Spike Lee. “We have something similar around my way...This one is probably better.” 

Read more at Plan Philly

Why some Philadelphia neighborhoods are paying for their own park improvements | Inga Saffron

A local park functions like a common room for the neighborhood. And like a room, it needs furniture.

That used to mean arranging a few benches around the perimeter. But as more Philadelphia neighborhoods reassert themselves after years of neglect, their ambitions for their parks are growing.