When it comes to adapting street space for pedestrians, Philly needs a better road map


Car-free urban public space is in short supply in American cities, where a clear demarcation frequently separates parkland from streetscape.

It doesn’t have to be that way, though, as a few sites in Philadelphia have begun to show. There are parking spaces on South Street given over to bicycle corrals. A stub of a street converted into a plaza in Grays Ferry has become an outdoor dining and play-date destination for the community.

Plazas and parklets — parking spaces repurposed for other uses — remain a relative rarity in Philadelphia, and a new study has determined that a lack of staff, funding and leadership, and a convoluted bureaucracy contribute to keeping neighborhoods from embracing these improvements.

“The amount of barriers to entry even at step one is huge,” said Katrina Johnston-Zimmerman, an urban anthropologist at Drexel University and author of the study for the Lindy Institute for Urban Innovation.

City officials, who were consulted in the report’s research, agreed that change is needed to make parklets and plazas easier to create.

“From an internal sense, we knew that the process needed some ways to be more efficient,” said Angela Dixon, director of planning for the city’s transportation office. “How we make it be more efficient, or where the pain points are? This report is really helpful.”

Read more at Inquirer.com.

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