Today’s Wonky Wednesday post, our inaugural entry in this weekly series, got you up to speed on streetscape. Streetscape is a critical component of the public realm, another wonky term that describes all the spaces and places where Philadelphians have shared encounters (parks, streets, sidewalks, public buildings, etc).
Public Realm is one of the 9 elements in which we organize all the recommendations of Philadelphia2035. Yes, ‘elements’ is also a wonky term, typically describing the individual parts or chapters that collectively compose a comprehensive plan (thereby making it, uh, comprehensive). That said, they are a convenient way to zoom in when we want to talk about the progress we are making towards our goals.
With this in mind, we will offer these planning element-based updates from time to time, and for no particular reason, we’re starting with the ninth and final element of Philadelphia2035: Public Realm.
As 2012 draws to a close, we’ll be working on our first-ever Philadelphia2035 Progress Report that pulls it alllll together, but there’s no need to get us all stressed out about that right this second. Instead, three updates on what’s happening in Philly’s public realm:
- 1. Ped Plazas are coming! Ever since we started tracking the amazing work coming out of New York City’s Department of Transportation in the areas of pedestrian safety and “road diets”, we knew many of the same strategies could be Philly-ized and yield similar benefits, and launching a ped plaza program became a key strategy in the Public Realm section of the plan. Our own Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities (MOTU) is in the midst of implementing a first round of projects, including this one at 42nd and Woodland Avenues in West Philadelphia. We hope to refine and continue this program into the future, and doing so requires community support as well as your ideas for future plaza locations!
- 2. More ‘park’, less ‘ing’: Last summer, University City District (UCD) did the unthinkable and removed 2 parking spaces from in front of a popular local business at 43rd and Baltimore, replacing it with public seating that drew people in droves. Now, Logan CDC is finalizing designs for its own parklet in front of the library branch at 1333 Wagner Avenue. As with ped plazas, these small and relatively low-cost spaces are suitable for any number of neighborhoods, so we encourage you to go experience existing parklets and think of places you’d like to see them in the future. You can also participate in PARK(ing) Day in September, an event that produces dozens of (unfortunately temporary) parklets just waiting to be implemented more permanently!
- 3. Lower Northeast District Plan Recommendations: We’ll have a full draft of this District Plan (our third) ready for your review next week, but as a preview we thought we’d highlight one of its public realm recommendations:
LNE 42: Create attractive and functional pedestrian plazas at areas of high pedestrian activity: In front of the Frankford Transportation Center; and at the intersection of Oxford and Frankford avenues at Margaret-Orthodox Station.
No public funding is yet allocated to these recommendations, but we have great case studies to draw from, particularly in New York where they’ve tackled the precise problem of pedestrian mobility underneath and next to elevated rail stations:
We also share this with the project updates as a reminder that we’ve got working models for making these things happen here at home. Knowing that, a combination of greater awareness, political support, and eventually, money, can make these recommendations reality!