Reclaim Concrete for your Community

Last winter, if you crossed the street at 48th and Baltimore, or perhaps Passyunk and Tasker, you would have noticed heaps of snow piled into the road way.  Cars drove back and forth through these intersections and where they didn’t, snow slowly piled up.  Few people really pay attention to those “snow islands”, but they actually have a lot to tell us about how we use our streets and how we can make our communities a better place to live in


What exactly does it say?  Roads that have “snow islands” have what traffic engineers call “excess capacity” which means that there is more space devoted to the road than cars driving down it need.  In addition as part of the collaborative effort between MOTU, the Streets Department and the Water Department to create “green infrastructure” these plaza’s can help green Philadelphia. What if we could reclaim this concrete for our communities?  What if we could put down plazas in the middle of the road and have the chance to sit and just enjoy our neighborhoods?


The City of Philadelphia is launching a new program, the Pedestrian Plaza Program, to do just that.  Modeled after successful initiatives in San Francisco and New York, the City is accepting applications from community groups across the City who are interested in turning underutilized sections of the road into parks.


The Streets and Commerce Departments will work with local community groups to paint the road (see picture) and install planters, benches and tables.  These low cost interventions will both make our roads safer, more beautiful and more accessible and provide the public the chance to sit and enjoy the city’s busy street life.  The community groups will be responsible for maintaining the spaces, keeping them clean and well tended.  Community groups will work with the City to manage these spaces: be it hosting a festival or dealing with snow.  Just as importantly they will work with their neighborhood to make them a success.


In New York and San Francisco these plazas have become the new heart of the communities that have them, providing more space for people to meet their neighbors, or just to take a break.  To bring one to your neighborhood check out the guidelines posted here (all applications will have to be submitted through eContractsphilly).



MOTUnes Monday | Cat Stevens (Peace Train)

Every Monday, the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities (MOTU) brings you MOTUnes Monday, a selection of some of our favorite transportation related songs. Today we bring you an oldie but a goodie, Cat Steven’s Peace Train.

PARK HERE! Or How to Create a Parklet

Almost every day thousands of Philadelphians are protagonist in a small game: the perfect parking space quest.  The amount of time and energy devoted to finding a space is significant (some studies suggest people looking for parking contribute to 30% of the traffic you sit in).  It is such that we can’t imagine a better use for that precious curb space than it standing empty waiting for us, individually, to come and park our vehicle.  It seems to be a long standing Philly tradition that we want to park in a space right in front of where we are going or want to be (plus we want it for free).

Sometimes there may  be a better use for those 160 square feet of space.  Instead of having one or two people utilize that space for an hour or two, what if five to ten people could pull up a chair and enjoy the space and their neighborhood?  That’s what Parklets are for.  Parklets are small wooden platforms with seats and tables that allow people to stop, sit and enjoy their neighborhood street life.  Sort of like a front porch or hanging on the stoop.

The University City District is partnering with the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities to bring Parklets to Philadelphia.  On August 4th, the first Philadelphia Parklet will be installed at 43rd and Baltimore outside the Greenline Café.

In San Francisco (another city that has developed Parklets) where people generally pay anywhere from $250 – $350 for a monthly parking space neighbors agree that the approximately this space is more valuable as a park than as parking.

Parklets represent an amazing collaborative effort between local businesses, community groups and the City to bring unique and innovative addition to their neighborhoods.  They allow us to re-imagine our streets as places for more than just driving and parking. This ties in nicely with Mayor Nutter’s goal of being the greenest city in America and a broader livability agenda for Philadelphia.

MOTUnes Monday | G-Love and Special Sauce (I – 76)

Every Monday, the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities (MOTU) brings you MOTUnes Monday, a selection of some of our favorite transportation related songs.  Today we bring you a local Philly band, G-Love and Special Sauce with their ode to I-76.

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