Philadelphia seeks federal funding to improve one of its deadliest streets


Philadelphia’s Roosevelt Boulevard, a notoriously dangerous corridor, saw 10-13% of the city’s total road deaths each year before the pandemic, reports Claudia Lauer for Insurance Journal. “Roosevelt Boulevard is a nearly 14-mile maze of chaotic traffic patterns that winds through some of the city’s most diverse neighborhoods and census tracts with the highest poverty rates. Driving can be dangerous with cars crossing between the inner and outer lanes, but biking or walking the boulevard can be even worse with some crosswalks longer than a football field and taking four light bikes to cross.

Safety advocates hope to see changes on the streets soon. “Kelley Yemen, director of Philadelphia’s Complete Streets program, said the city hopes federal funds will begin a long-term Roosevelt overhaul outlined in a study published in 2019. The two options would either make the center lanes a restricted freeway, or reduce speeds and convert car-only lanes to bike and transit lanes. Both carry billion dollar price tags.

Despite the reduction in overall traffic during the early days of the pandemic, “Around Philadelphia, aggressive driving during the pandemic resulted in 156 fatalities in 2020, a sharp increase from 90 fatalities in 2019,” Lauer notes. “Data for the first four months of 2022 showed more pedestrians have died on Philadelphia roads so far this year than people in cars.”

In an encouraging sign, deaths on Roosevelt Boulevard have not increased like much of the city. Safety advocates attribute this to the automated traffic control program which installed speed cameras at eight intersections. “Overall, speeding is down more than 91% on the road, city and parking authority officials said.”


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