By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia City Council is expected to cast a final vote this week on a bill that makes it easier for neighborhoods to set up pedestrian hangouts, as well as more space for bicycle parking.
The Nutter Administration for the past few years has been testing out what are called ‘parklets’ — in which two parking spaces are cordoned off for pedestrians to sit and hang out. Andrew Stober, Chief of Staff in the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities, says they’ve been a big success.
“We have had business report to us that they have seen increased revenues of 15-40% from the increased foot traffic that comes,” he says. “Basically you’ve added a new amenity on a neighborhood commercial corridor. People want to come by to see it. It also creates a reason to stop.”
City Council is now poised to approve a bill that would expand that effort, allowing any neighborhood to apply to the Streets Department for a permit to create a parklet. This red-tape reduction would also apply to the creation of larger pedestrian plazas, and to bike corrals — which are areas for parking 12 or more bikes near busy intersections. Sarah Clark Stuart, Deputy Director of the Bicycle Coalition of Philadelphia, testified that corrals are a great alternative to bike racks.
“The demand for it greatly outstrips the supply,” she says. “Despite the number of sidewalk racks, converted parking meters that have been done by the city and the Parking Authority, there are still many zones and areas within the city that do not have enough bicycle parking.”
Under the bill, a community would need 100% of its residents to agree to the creation of a parklet, plaza or bike corral, unless the district council person sent a letter stipulating that he or she felt the great majority of residents were in favor.
Final passage is expected on Thursday, what is likely to be the final meeting of City Council before summer adjournment.
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