Philadelphia’s population growth and expanding economic vitality is a testament to city leadership bringing stakeholders together to work through obstacles to progress. Our recent selection by National Geographic Magazine as one of the top 25 “Best Trips” and must-see destinations in the world for 2020 reflects that commitment. There are, however, critical issues we must address to continue attracting new residents, visitors, and businesses.
One of the most obvious impacts of our success is increased congestion, particularly on Center City streets. The advent of ride-share services, increased online shopping, and the delivery vehicles necessary to that process, alongside expanding use of bicycles and scooters, all compete for limited on-street space. The resulting obstacles to the free flow of traffic can create hazardous conditions for vehicles, bicycles, as well as pedestrians. A June 2019 study by Econsult Solutions estimates that 9.7 million hours are lost by buses and cars sitting in traffic each year. In addition, the report estimated that 15,700 potential jobs and $1.08 billion in potential earnings are associated with lost productivity from congestion.
As legal parking spaces at the curb get more and more difficult to find, illegal parking increases. Based on our count at the Philadelphia Parking Authority, truck safety violations now exceed 12,000 a month, a 20% increase since 2017. Most tickets issued to delivery trucks are not for parking too long, but for congestion-causing safety violations such as parking in bus zones, crosswalks, no stopping, double parking, blocking driveways, blocking mass transit, parking prohibited, parking in spaces reserved for people with disabilities, and parking in front of fire hydrants.
The PPA has implemented a number of new initiatives aimed to address congestion:
Acknowledging that multiple groups each have a valid claim of access to our streets is a beginning. Applying technology where we can, as well as adjusting fees and fines coupled with appropriate enforcement, will move us forward. First, however, we need to clearly articulate the consequences of bad parking habits on the quality of life for residents, businesses, tourists, and other visitors. We welcome feedback from the public as these plans develop.