Mt. Airy Traffic Calming Committee: Please join us, or at least slow down when you’re driving around the neighborhood!

May 19, 2022

Are you increasingly concerned that a reckless driver might hit you? Do you wish you could let your kids walk to school on their own without worrying about their safety?

It is not your imagination: reckless and aggressive driving has gotten a lot worse in the past few years. Traffic crash fatalities nationwide have risen over the past decade. Paradoxically, crash fatalities dramatically rose during pandemic lockdown when car-free residential streets allowed for reckless speeding throughout the country. With the end of lockdown, traffic fatalities unfortunately have not decreased as bad driving behaviors have become habits.

What can we as a community do to protect ourselves and our children? One answer is traffic calming. Traffic calming is the installation of measures which force drivers to slow down. Speed cushions, sidewalk bump-outs, parking protected bike lanes, re-striping road “diets”, and automated speed-cameras are some of the most effective measures to make our streets safer for people not traveling by car.

Some of the most innovative and effective traffic calming tools are parking protected bike lanes (which buffer pedestrians from traffic) and automated speed-enforcement cameras. But neither is even available for our most dangerous roads (Lincoln Drive, Stenton, Upsal, and Ardleigh) because they are only pilot programs or need additional legislation to make them available citywide. According to speakers at Philadelphia’s Vision Zero Conference on April 30th, legislation allowing for speed cameras will sunset in 2023 and a parking protected bike lanes bill (HB 140) is currently stuck in the Senate Transportation committee in Harrisburg. They will need broad public support to be put into expanded use.

Street cushions are a tried-and-true traffic calming measure that we’ve seen installed on a handful of streets in the neighborhood. Getting speed cushions on your street can be a drawn-out and complicated process. Only certain wide streets are even eligible for speed cushions. Moreover, large “arterial” streets like Lincoln Drive are prohibited from installing speed cushions at all because of the need to maintain higher commuting speeds. Even eligible streets require Philadelphia to conduct a traffic study and need councilperson backing, in addition to overwhelming neighborhood support.

In the meantime, what is a Mt Airy resident to do? Well, for one thing – you can SLOW DOWN when driving! Even when you are late to work or in a hurry.

Second, you can JOIN the Mt. Airy Traffic Calming Committee – a joint project of WMAN and EMAN. We are currently working on many strategies to make Mt Airy safer for all of us, but it’s a heavy lift, and we need as many hands as possible. Please email anne.dicker@gmail.comif you are interested in being part of the solution.

Image: Vision Source Network