PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Among the items on the agenda when Philadelphia City Council gets back to work this month is a bill that would require builders to take extra measures before closing down a sidewalk for construction.
The bill is a response to the checkerboard of closed sidewalks that make navigating Center City on foot challenging.
Councilwoman Helen Gym was horrified when she witnessed a pedestrian struck at 15th and Chestnut, where the sidewalk has been closed for many months to accommodate the construction of two high-rise hotels.
She doesn’t know if the accident and closed sidewalk were related, but she believes pedestrians are being forced into dangerous situations at construction sites and that the city should not be tolerating it.
“We’re seeing too many exceptions to what should be a standard rule of protected pedestrian walkways,” she said.
City law requires developers, seeking to close a sidewalk, to provide covered walkways unless they can show it’s not possible to do so. Gym’s bill would add protected walkways, with traffic barriers, as alternatives.
“Development shouldn’t be a hindrance to pedestrian safety.”
Gym said she’s also considering introducing legislation to set fees that would discourage closing sidewalks, especially for long periods of time.