When asked by the City of Philadelphia what they were looking for in the Spring Garden Street Greenway, the response from the city’s public was clear: they wanted a corridor that was safe, accessible, and attractive. These desires were little changed from PEC’s feasibility assessment conducted nearly a decade ago.
These findings are essential to the progress of the Spring Garden Street Improvement Project, which will create new walking and biking access along Spring Garden Street. This is a priority project for the Circuit Trails Coalition, which is working to connect over 800 miles of trail across the Philadelphia and South Jersey region. The proposed greenway would fill an important gap between the Schuylkill Banks and the Delaware River Trail and will serve as the East Coast Greenway through the City of Philadelphia — a multi-state trail connecting Maine to Florida.
Spring Garden Street is the only feasible connector corridor between these locations, as well as other city destinations, so the investment in public safety and comfort is especially important and exciting. Because of the central location of the corridor, the improvements will benefit a wide range of users.
“It’s particularly challenging creating a ‘trail facility’ that would be inviting and safe for seniors or families with children, as well as a variety of other users, such as long-distance cyclists embarking on a multi-day recreational ride on what is a major urban artery,” said Patrick Starr, PEC’s EVP. “The design bar here is higher than a typical city bike lane. I look forward to a day when every local resident will remember riding the Schuylkill to the Delaware as an iconic childhood rite of passage!”
“It’s particularly challenging creating a ‘trail facility’ that would be inviting and safe for seniors or families with children, as well as a variety of other users.”
In November and December of 2020, the city solicited input from the public on the proposed improvements, which included better stormwater management, bike lanes, street lighting, and signage. People were asked to share ideas related to safety issues they noticed or experienced along Spring Garden St. and identify other potential improvements.
Results shared in the city’s executive summary found that the public was overwhelmingly supportive of improved safety for walkers and cyclists. Of particular interest was the addition of curbside parking-protected bicycle lanes, as the current street configuration does not adequately protect users from fast-moving, turning, and double-parked vehicles. Respondents also expressed a desire for increased greenery along the corridor, which they wanted to see well-maintained and free of trash, and better connections to other neighborhoods and destinations.
“The Greenway will vastly improve access to the many residences, businesses and institutions on the corridor by prioritizing the safety of the most vulnerable users of the street—including people with mobility issues, children, families, older adults, delivery workers and people walking, using transit and biking,” said Daniel Paschall, Mid-Atlantic Coordinator for the East Coast Greenway Alliance and a member of the Circuit Trails steering committee. “We need to bring urgency to the project and make sure that the city takes quick action to invest in this plan.
After hearing the strong public support for the project, the Circuit Trails Coalition is calling on the city to make the project a top priority and seek federal funding to complete the remaining design and construction by 2025.
This past year, the importance of investing in safe, accessible routes for walking and biking has become increasingly clear, as record numbers of people used these resources to keep themselves physically and mentally healthy during the pandemic. Projects in highly urbanized settings such as this one are especially important for improving access to safe and welcoming spaces for transportation and recreation.
You can show your support for funding the Spring Garden Street Improvement Project here.