Better Blocks Philly

Initiative: 
Safety

Better Blocks Philly was a part of Design Philadelphia and was a demonstration project to show the neighborhood that streets are not only for cars, but that everyone's quality of life improves when streets are 'complete streets' shared by cars, pedestrians, and bicyclists.

Better Blocks Philly was made possible by the funding and volunteer efforts of the South of South Neighborhood Visitors enjoying parkletAssociation (SOSNA), Wallace Roberts & Todd (WRT), Design Coordinator, and Brown & Keener Urban Design, Programming Coordinator. The project engaged residents, artists and designers in creating a living/functioning exhibit of Complete Street concepts, with temporary traffic calming and streetscape installations, as well as pop-up shops and community events. The events took place in October, 2011 along one whole city block in the South of South Neighborhood. Better Blocks is a national movement to improve neighborhoods.

The goals of the project were to foster a safer and more pleasant pedestrian environment, to educate citizens about healthy streetscape design; and to create city-wide awareness of innovative traffic calming, and pedestrian and bicycle safety measures. In addition, the project aimed to promote local businesses, the work of local artists and designers, and to encourage ideas to help usher in implementation projects that will evolve the city's neighborhood design ideology.

The projects included a mid-block crossing and loading zone at the Christian Street Y to calm traffic and make this busy spot safer and more pleasant for pedestrians:

Mid-block crossing

Mid-block crossing    

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the 1700 block of Webster Street, we constructed a series of chicanes. A chicane is builtout curbline than can contain trees or other plants.The chicanes force traffic to drive more slowly in order to negotiate the constructed curves rather than making a fast run down the street.

Assembling chicaneThe chicanes were assembled by a group of volunteers who worked on them over the course of two days.

The completedChicanes on Webster Street chicanes added trees and greenery to this block of Webster Street, slowed traffic considerably, and made the street safer for the many children who live and play there.

 

 

 

The 1700 block of Christian Street also saw a parklet (a mini-park which occupies one or two parking spaces and gives visitors a place to sit, relax and engage with each other while keeping the sidewalk clear for pedestrians) and a pop-up shop at 1701 Christian Street where several events were held and artists' work was displayed.

 

ParkletEvent at pop-up shop

 

Parklet and event at pop-up shop.

 

You can find more information and photos of the project at BetterBlocksPhilly.

 

Now that this demonstration project has ended, we want to know what you thought about it. What did you like? What didn't work? Did you attend any of the events? Would you like to see some of these measures implemented permanently somewhere in the neighborhood or elsewhere in the city? Take the online survey and tell us what you think.

Lastly, here are a couple of videos capturing elements of the Better Blocks Philly project.

Better Blocks Philly - Mid-Block Crossing from Andrew Dalzell on Vimeo.