PHILADELPHIA – May 14 – The joint Committees on Streets and Services and Public Safety on Monday held a hearing on Councilwoman Cindy Bass’ resolution examining traffic calming issues and solutions around Philadelphia’s schools and childcare centers.
“In the 8th District, there are 33 public and charter schools with a total enrollment of nearly 22,000 students,” Councilwoman Bass said. “In addition, we have more than 300 childcare facilities. Many of these—especially daycare centers—are located on busy streets and intersections. I see all the time where you have kids darting into traffic, crossing in front of or behind buses or other vehicles, cars double parked, drivers on their cell phones, and no one really cognizant of the fact that they are in the middle of this busy thoroughfare where tragedy can occur in an instant and where no real traffic safety provisions have been made to safeguard these areas.”
Philadelphia has one of the highest rates of pedestrian traffic fatalities of its peer cities in the nation. Between 2009 and 2013, children under 18 years old comprised 12.7 percent of all traffic pedestrian deaths in the City.
Individuals who testified included Christopher M. Puchalsky, assistant managing director at the Office of Transportation and Infrastructure Systems, Bob Prevedi of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, child care center owners and parents of children enrolled in Philadelphia schools.
“I’ve met with Streets Commissioner Carlton Williams, held neighborhood walkthroughs at particularly dangerous locations in the 8th District, and worked alongside Streets on traffic safety improvement plans,” Councilwoman Bass said. “When it comes to looking at schools and childcare centers, I want to know what improvements we can make as a City to make our children safer.”
Puchalsky said his office is working on implementing various safe streets initiatives around schools and daycares including a safe routes to schools program and Vision Zero for schools.
“I’d like to personally thank the councilwoman for introducing this resolution,” Puchalsky said.
Moneek Pines, owner of ARTrageous Kids Childcare Center on Germantown Avenue, said that despite increased traffic on the Avenue, pedestrian safety measures are lacking.
“As a resident and business owner, I have long been aware of the challenges—for me, as an adult—in crossing the street,” Pines said. “It’s far worse for school children, senior citizens or families escorting young children to day cares like mine.”
Pines said a survey of crosswalks in a section of Mt. Airy conducted by the Mt. Airy Business Improvement District found there are very few intersections with traffic lights and, with one exception, there are no additional crosswalks signaling for cars to yield for pedestrians.
Said Bass, “Through this hearing we in Council have a better sense of the scope of the problem and can look at some potential solutions. I look forward to working towards some specific and tangible strategies to reducing unsafe conditions in our neighborhoods.”
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Councilwoman Cindy Bass represents the 8th Council District, which includes Germantown, Mt. Airy, Nicetown, Tioga, Chestnut Hill, portions of Logan, and West Oak Lane. She is Chair of Council’s committees on Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs and Public Health and Human Services.