More Park, Less Way

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By: Dominique Jolly

The Philadelphia Department of Parks and Recreation and the PennPraxis presented a plan to increase urban vibrancy on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

More Park, Less Way is a plan to improve the Benjamin Franklin Parkway that was designed by the Department of Parks and Recreation and PennPraxis (an arm of the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design). It was presented at a meeting on the 5th of February and should be completed by 2015.

The plan focuses on the land between Logan Square and the Philadelphia Art Museum, ranging 0.75 miles of space. Target areas include street crossings, access points to surrounding neighborhoods, and public spaces under used and with high volumes of traffic.

Eakins Oval and a few other areas will be focused on in particular. To boost appeal they will now include areas of recreation for tourists and nearby residents.

In order for this to happen, the areas will need public restrooms and food venues. The plan suggests that the parking spaces around Eakins Oval be turned into seating areas and an event space.

More Park, Less Way is supposed to benefit the 70,000 neighbors across seven neighborhoods close to the parkway, according to Sixty-percent of those residents commute by bikes, public transportation, and walking. There are 600,000 regular visitors to the parkway annually. There are 17 underutilized areas along the parkway.

As far as the messy driving lanes down the Parkway, the number of problematic intersections between 20th and 26th streets have been identified at 14 according to

According to the plan, the current problems with the parkway should be taken care of in a way that will benefit both Philadelphia residents and visitors. The project will be funded by state grants and donations by Pew Charitable Trust and the Lenfest Foundation.

In recent years the city of Philadelphia has invested about $20 million in street improvements along the Parkway. Yet, the northern and southern edges of the Parkway continue to have issues that negatively affect the Parkway’s ability to thrive as a pedestrian environment. There are narrow sidewalks, long crosswalks, a lack of maintenance, minimal curb and crosswalk stripping, and high speed turns that connect with roads similar to highways.

The traffic on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway is massive and is considered by some to be slightly confusing, especially in Eakins Oval. More Park, Less Way plans to address traffic as well. The plan observed that there is a lot of automobile traffic at the expense of pedestrians, bicyclists, and public transit. By adjusting the area, people seeking access to destinations along the Parkway will be ensured more comfort and safety. The planning committee suggests transforming the Parkway into a bicycle friendly zone and reducing the highway nature of the area to start.

Normally, Philadelphia has defined the success of the Parkway in terms of how well it attracts tourists and other visitors from out of town. Now, in order to increase urban vibrancy, the remaining open spaces along the Parkway are going to focus on Philadelphia residents. In order to do so More Park, Less Way focuses on building upon the assets that adjoining neighborhoods offer. It will highlight local cuisine, art, commerce, and programs in order to bring more people and activities to the Parkway.

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More Park, Less Way