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SOSNA presents plans for ‘slow zone’ application for Graduate Hospital streets

If the application speed limits will be lowered from 25 MPH to 20 MPH and traffic calming measures, such as speed cushions and “daylighting,” will be utilized.

South Philly residents gathered at Thursday night’s South of South Neighborhood Association meeting to discuss the organization’s application for a slow zone in the neighborhood.

Slow zones, according to the city’s Office of Transportation, Infrastructure and Sustainability, will be clearly marked zones of residential streets in which speed limits will be lowered from 25 mph to 20 mph and traffic-calming measures, such as speed cushions and “daylighting,” will be utilized. The boundaries of the slow zone will be Grays Ferry Avenue on the west border, South Street on the north border, 19th Street on the east border and Christian Street as the southern border.

“The great thing about the neighborhood slow zone is that it’s a comprehensive way to get things done in a large area rather than this piecemeal approach that we’ve been working with for years to get done,” said SOSNA board member Daniel McGlone. “It’s a joint effort between neighbors and the city.”

Daylighting is a process that aims to increase visibility at intersections by using infrastructure such as bulb-outs and bollards to prevent cars from parking on or near crosswalks. Bulb-outs are basically extensions of the curb into the street where the walkway is to shorten the distance pedestrians need to walk to cross the street. When cars aren’t parked near crosswalks it becomes easier for drivers to see pedestrians and vice versa — especially when the pedestrians are children.

Technically, it’s illegal to park within 20 feet of a crosswalk, according to SOSNA Safety Committee’s Chair Tonya Seaman. However, it goes unenforced by the Philadelphia Parking Authority unless there’s a “do not park” sign at the intersection.

“The streets department is going to put no parking signs where you’re legally supposed to not park,” she said. “They’re going to put vertical delineators so that people can’t actually park there even if they wanted to and we’re going to paint them.”

Part of the application, according to McGlone, stipulates that applicants must provide letters of support from stakeholders.

“We’ll hopefully get a letter of support from Kenyatta Johnson’s office, from the police district and then any other neighborhood businesses that want to show support for this,” he said.

According to OTIS, the deadline to submit slow zone applications is Jan. 18. Semi-finalists will be announced March 1. After that, the timeline isn’t so clear, but once semi-finalists are selected, the city will join semi-final applicants at community meetings and gather input before making a final decision.

McGlone also said it was necessary to identify businesses, establishments and any other “anchor institutions” that draw traffic into the area. Some of the anchor institutions located in SOSNA’s proposed slow zone are Catherine Park, The Sidecar Bar & Grille, St. Charles Senior Center, Marian Anderson Historical Society and Ultimo Coffee.

According to OTIS, reduced speeds can play a vital role in saving pedestrians’ lives. A pedestrian will die nine out of 10 times if he or she is hit by a car going 40 mph, the slow zone application reads. At 30 mph, that number declines to five out of 10 times, and at 20 mph, the figure is one out of 10 times.

OTIS’ slow zone program is part of the city’s Vision Zero initiative, which aims to eliminate all traffic-related deaths and severe injuries on Philadelphia streets by 2030 while

increasing safety, health, and mobility for all Philadelphians.

For more information about the slow zone application, visit southofsouth.org or attend the next SOSNA safety committee meeting Thursday, Dec. 20, at 7 p.m. The meeting will take place at SOSNA’s offices at 1901 Christian St.

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