About two years ago, Philly residents were asked if they felt at ease when traveling on the Cobbs Creek Parkway.
Results from a survey showed their answer: a clear and resounding no, with more than 60% of respondents saying they felt "unsafe" or "extremely unsafe" while walking on or near the West Philly road. While some drivers said they felt safe, less than 5 percent of bikers and pedestrians said they did.
Previous NBC10 reporting has mentioned residents' complaints of high-speed, aggreessive driving on the Parkway, a key artery to the western suburbs that cuts through a West Philadelphia neighborhood. They readily expressed those concerns again after a hit-and-run last month killed a 25-year-old woman who recently became a mom. Neighbors called for stop signs, speed bumps, anything to stop the speeding, which they said was rarely enforced.
News this week brought new hope and frustration as PennDOT announced some traffic safety changes would come within a month, including:
- Rumble strips in the center lanes between Girard and Baltimore avenues;
- Lane separators in some center-lane spots between Delancey Street and Florence Avenue;
- Reduced lane widths;
- Pedestrian crossing markings and other safety signs
The changes were announced weeks after the Aug. 21 hit-and-run that killed Avante Reynolds, 25, as she crossed the parkway after 8 p.m.
According to an in-depth report from WHYY's PlanPhilly, neighbors were demanding action for years. In that report, city Register of Wills Tracey Gordon referred to the road as the "Roosevelt Boulevard" of West Philadelphia. (After years of dangerous crashes, 32 cameras were installed on the boulevard to deter speeding drivers.)
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In a statement, City Councilmember Jamie Gauthier called the changes to the parkway - which cuts through her council district - too little after a wait too long.
Other changes that will not come until 2021 include improved safety signage and a high-friction road treatment along dangerous curves. PennDOT is also working with the Philly Streets Department to redesign guardrail on the parkway and work on more permanent solutions to traffic issues.
The parkway has several nonuniform, angular intersections that create long routes for crossing pedestrians, and encourage high-speed turns in some spots, according to a Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission study released in 2018.
"This has been a concern for many years, and we are frustrated that it’s not being treated with the urgency it deserves," Gauthier said. "There is more than enough evidence to show that major interventions will be necessary to change traffic patterns and enhance safety measures."
A spokesperson for Gauthier pointed out that the Cobbs Creek Parkway is listed in Vision Zero's High-Injury Network. That's a 12% portion of the city's roads where 50% of the traffic deaths occur. The initiative is prioritizing safety efforts on the roads deemed most dangerous.
"The community deserves safe intersections along Cobbs Creek Parkway; easy access to Cobbs Creek Trail; and opportunities to safely walk, bike, and drive around their neighborhood," the planning commission report says. "Walkers, bicyclists, people in wheelchairs, people pushing strollers, cars, trucks, and buses all need to be able to safely get where they want to go."
The hit-and-run that killed Reynolds occurred near Catharine Street, according to police. In the hours after the crash, they said a light-colored car fled the scene; no further information on the investigation was immediately provided Wednesday.