One day, Philadelphia may live up to its reputation as a pedestrian-friendly city - a place where crossing signals no longer flash "Don't Walk" before you reach the other side, where construction crews aren't permitted to cordon off entire sidewalks, and where drivers don't get away with blocking intersections while waiting to turn on red.
In fact, several recent moves by Mayor Nutter's administration may hasten the arrival of that day. The latest came last week, with an executive order from the mayor directing that city officials look out more for cyclists, pedestrians, and transit users in city planning and projects.
That followed the crackdown begun last month on Center City motorists who block crosswalks and loading zones, or double-park. At the same time, parking-meter rates were boosted to free up space and cut down on congestion from drivers circling the block in search of street parking.
While the enforcement and meter changes were meant to combat existing congestion and pedestrian hazards, the mayor's "Complete Streets Policy" directs city officials to do a better job when laying out streets and sidewalks, and considering development projects.
The policy, Nutter said, would give "full consideration of cyclists, pedestrians, and public transit users." According to city transportation czar Rina Cutler, "We expect every city agency to incorporate this policy, constructing a future where it is easier than ever before to walk, bike, or take transit."
Among the smart, pedestrian-friendly initiatives the mayor recommends in his executive order are more curb bump-outs and better signal timing to ease street crossing; adding to the city's impressive 200 miles of bike lanes - lauded by a national cycling group last week; and removing physical barriers for the disabled.
Now that Nutter has put pedestrian-friendly policies in place, the challenge for him will be to insist that city agencies comply and don't try to step around them.