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One of the greatest things about Philadelphia is its walkability. Usually. If you’re out and about this summer, though, you’ll note any number of sidewalk-blocking construction zones that prompt pedestrians to step into the street. Philadelphia’s City Council had started to discuss doing something about that. But oh well: Council has now gone on summer recess, so we’re all stuck playing in traffic until fall.

Earlier this month, Councilman Jim Kenney proposed making Philly’s sidewalks safer by imposing fines on construction sites that block pedestrian walkways. Speaking to Newsworks, Kenny said that Philly is rife with “contractors throwing up cyclone fences with tarpaulin taking the entire sidewalk in highly trafficked areas forcing pedestrians into the street, tourists and residents alike.” In his proposal, the councilman proposes a $1,000 daily fine for those who block the sidewalks without employing signage or barriers to mark a safe walking path.

Summer, obviously, would be the time to make that happen. Lots of people out walking! But hey, Council needs its summer break.

Now, let’s be fair: The only people who describe City Council’s recess as a three-months-long paid vacation are everyone who isn’t on City Council. Members themselves, on the other hand, have disputed this characterization, naming a few things they do over the summer. But even the Pew Charitable Trusts note that Philadelphia has the most generous amount of unscheduled time without meetings compared to every other major city’s council in the entire nation.

Anyway, thanks to its certainly-not-a-vacation, Council won’t be able to vote on Kenney’s bill, and you’re stuck walking into oncoming traffic. For instance: This is the 100 block of North 3rd Street in Old City, an area inhabited daily by tourists, workers, and commuting bicyclists. This picture was taken a few weeks ago; today, there’s a big ol’ crane in the spot where the trailer is. As of 11 a.m. this morning, there were no signs indicating the sidewalk is blocked, and there are no barriers protecting pedestrians from passing cars:

Blocked sidewalk

And it’s not that contractors can’t protect pedestrians. Here’s a picture taken right up the block at 3rd and Market, where there are barriers and signs in place keeping pedestrians safe.

Sidewalk closed sign

Thanks for getting right on this, Council!

 

About The Author

Contributing columnist

Josh Kruger is an award-winning writer and commentator in Philadelphia. His @PhillyWeekly column, “The Uncomfortable Whole,” took the First Place Spotlight Award for weekly newspaper commentary from the Society of Professional Journalists in both 2014 and 2015 and the Second Place Award for weekly newspaper commentary in the U.S. and Canada from the Association of Alternative Newsmedia in 2014; and, the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association presented him with the Edith Hughes Emerging Journalist Award in 2015. Along with his column, Josh blogs daily for PW on various topics including queer culture and news, mass transit, politics, crime, drugs, HIV/AIDS, civil liberties, activism, media and everything else Philly.

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