Change Coming to Famous Philly “Sneckdown” Street, But Is It Enough?

This Philadelphia intersection was in need of some pedestrian improvements, as the patterns in the snow helped illustrate. Image: This Old City
This Philadelphia intersection could use some pedestrian improvements, as the patterns in the snow helped illustrate. Image: This Old City

Do you remember this image? Jon Geeting at This Old City used this touched-up photo, taken after a huge snowfall in Philadelphia, to illustrate how lots of asphalt at this intersection could be repurposed to make it more pedestrian-friendly. His post was a viral event in the great “sneckdown” mania this winter, which called attention to how leftover snow patterns can help envision safer street designs.

Well, the city of Philadelphia is working now to build a more pedestrian-friendly intersection here, at the corner of East Passyunk Avenue, 10th and Reed Street. Philly Curbed reports:

The Passyunk Post reported back in June that the work could cost upwards of “$400,000” and includes traffic calming techniques like expanding the curbs to shorten the distance pedestrians have to walk, improved signaling and the installation of ADA compliant ramps.

Construction on a dangerous East Passyunk intersection in Philadelphia. Photo: Hilly Curbed
Construction on a dangerous East Passyunk intersection in Philadelphia. Photo: Philly Curbed

It’s a step forward, but Geeting thinks this intervention should have taken more cues from the sneckdown. While curbs will be expanded to calm traffic, there will be no pedestrian island. Here’s a visualization he posted in June showing all the space that could be reallocated to pedestrians:

The city will be adding curb extensions at this intersection, but not in all the places that Jon Geeting has mapped out here.

Geeting snapped photos of more than 20 sneckdowns on East Passyunk alone, so Philadelphia still has a lot of work to do to make these streets better.

  • ambiguator

    In short: No.

    The construction is done now, and the only noticeable change is a slight bumpout on the northwestern corner, and new traffic lights and ped crossing signals. No ped refuge. No other bumpouts. And I think the crossing time is actually *shorter* than it used to be.

    Half a million dollars later, and it’s just as bad as it was before.

  • Atrios

    pedestrian crossing lights are welcome, but there isn’t much point to the rest of it

  • Lewis Fernrock

    I biked through here yesterday (coming west on Reed en route to Acme) and yeah, felt as bad as ever. There is still that giant triangle of asphalt in the middle where you can’t tell which street/lane/whatever you’re in

  • douglasawillinger

    Fire engines, emergency vehicles, trucks?

  • Jake

    The construction at this intersection has already been complete for over a week now, before this article was posted. It’s a noticeable improvement, as turns for drivers are more controlled and predictable, but the intersection is still unsafe. Crossings are still too long for both pedestrians and cyclists. Also, the shortest crossing distance, from corners across the Acme and CVS parking lots, does not have a crosswalk, even though it is naturally where pedestrians cross. Instead there are two crosswalks across Passyunk and 10th, which no one crossing both streets at once will use.

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