Thursday, August 25, 2016

"Tradition is the illusion of permanence."

Philadelphia is full of traditions. Cheesesteaks, throwing snowballs at Santa Claus, Mummers parading drunk and assaulting people, and parking in the median along South Broad St. Parking on the median started in 1916 and became an entrenched entitlement since the end of WWII when car ownership became more common. It’s also been against the law to park in the median since 1916. But like most traffic laws in Philadelphia getting the Philadelphia Parking Authority or the police to enforce traffic laws, let alone on a consistent basis is a near impossibility. But all of that appears to be changing, sort of.


During the closure of Center City streets during the 2015 Papal visit by Pope Francis it gave city government the opportunity to see if there was a demand for Open Streets events. As well as how exactly it might work. Now thanks to the 2016 Democratic National Convention we might see the end of parking on the median on south Broad St.


During the convention the city enforced the existing no parking policy regarding the Broad St. median. In order to allow protesters to move safely down Broad St. Shortly thereafter a petition was circulated by 5th Square online that drew over 1000 signatures from Philadelphia residents living in the area of South Broad St.


It was just announced that in a meeting a few weeks ago between Mayor Kenney and various city agencies that the PPA is going to start ticketing the most egregious offenders. Those parked in crosswalks and turn lanes. But anything more than that has been dumped back into a leaderless solution that “that any other changes should be community-driven.” Good luck with that, all it takes is small vocal minority to stop change in Philadelphia.


While I would like to say that this recent news has brought signs of a light at the end of the tunnel, the reality is no one has turned on the light. Let’s remember that the likelihood of the PPA doing any ticketing, let alone even moderate enforcement is highly unlikely. This is the same PPA that has barely ticketed cars parked in bike lanes and gives the appearance that it has been become nothing more than a drinking game for the PPA.


Unfortunately Mayor Kenney has engaged in foot dragging that Philadelphia politicians are notorious for, when dealing with traditions that only benefit a small minority of people who reside in Philadelphia. That has come in the form of his comments about how this change should be community driven. A true source of frustration when you realize that this is the same Mayor Kenney who eliminated the long held practice of parking in the City Hall apron. As well as taking on City Council and PAC’s (Political Action Committees) who spent over three million fighting the soda tax.


Keeping the median clear on the southern end of Broad St. Will make it easier for emergency vehicles like the police and fire departments to move along Broad St. safely and effectively. It will eliminate the risk of collisions when people enter and exit their cars or attempting to cross a high speed road when accessing a car parked along the median.

But all of this requires leadership from Mayor Kenney and related city agencies. Something that is lacking.

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