Streets Shut Down
Just imagine yourself walking down a main street without the pressure of a car on your back. Now imagine seeing a the sight of a people casually playing baseball on the street and that is usually packed with angry drivers and the smell of exhaust fumes. Now stop imagining, this amazing event happened in Philadelphia.
In preparation for Pope Francis, Philadelphia planned out security zones, denying access to motorized vehicles, surrounding major areas around the city inadvertently creating a rare scene within the 4th largest city in the USA.
Philadelphians took to the streets with joy, taking a exhaust free breath, playing baseball in the streets, or just happily people watching in this idealized version of what a city should be. So urban planners take note!
With the city center, historic district, and park way closed off, Philadelphia was introduced to a surreal scene: from congested street to a pedestrian paradise. Having to biked to work and around the city all weekend, I can say for sure that without the stress of a congested street, the open streets made the city way more enjoyable. Many others agreed, in the days after the event, Philadelphians have been pushing towards the open city to become an annual or even weekly event.
The benefits of the car free city was instantly noticeable. Starting the day for the Pope Ride, which was organized over facebook, people were in high spirits. It was the nicest thing I have ever experienced – Philadelphia has been accidentally turned into a case study for a successful pedestrian city, hopefully pushing towards more cities to follow suit.
By Joshua Mohn