May 30: West Philadelphia Traffic Woes | Bike Commuting as Tech Free Time | Canada Rolls Out New Safe Injection Sites For Drug Users

The Inquirer’s Jason Laughlin heads to 57th and Spruce in West Philadelphia to get a better idea of the challenges facing the city’s Vision Zero agenda. The intersection is jammed with jostling students, speeding automobiles, and idling buses, making it one of the more dangerous areas for traffic crashes in the city. (Between 2011 and 2016 police responded to 401 crashes there.)  “Walnut and Chestnut are almost like a highway going through a residential neighborhood,” said Capt. Patrick Kelly, commanding officer of the Philadelphia Police Department’s Accident Investigation District. There are similar hotspots throughout the city, as Philadelphia’s dense and walkable nature clashes with speeding automobiles. In 2016 alone there were 12,000 crashes and 100 related deaths.

Philadelphia ex-pat Daniel Denvir reports on the contrasting visions of the War on Drugs in Justin Trudeau’s Canada and Donald Trump’s United States. While the new administration in Washington D.C. takes an aggressively punitive approach to fighting drug dealing and addition, their Canadian counterparts are doing the exact opposite. Denvir tours a safe injection site opening in downtown Montreal, which will allow drug users to shoot up under medical supervision in an attempt to greatly reduce the risk of overdose.  “If it’s busy, there’s a take-a-number sign like at a supermarket deli counter or the DMV,” writes Denvir. “It’s a remarkably banal location for people to safely use illegal drugs.” As the synthetic opioid known as fentanyl becomes increasingly prevalent, and leads to more deaths, Trudeau’s government is looking to safe injection sites and prescription heroin as a means to blunt the epidemic’s fatal toll. Under the current administration, it’s hard to imagine such solutions getting very far but experiments are being considered in Massachusetts and the Seattle metropolitan area. If they move forward, the resultant zoning battles will no doubt be epic.

CityLab has an ode about biking to work as one of the few moments in a day when we can escape our technology addictions. As a relatively new cyclist commuter, Adam Sneed rhapsodizes about the freedom of his ride in contrast to his old subway commute—where he would still send work emails or cruise social media. The bike commute freed him from that burden. “I’ve since figured out how to be a refreshing mix of bored, contemplative, and daydreamy for those 30 minutes on both ends of the workday,” writes Sneed.

One of Project HOME’s latest housing deals is in danger after North Philadelphia Health System’s (NPHS) bankruptcy froze a deal between the two entities.  An almost $13 million LGBTQ-friendly affordable housing close to the Girard Medical Center is now in limbo as NPHS needs the permission of a bankruptcy judge to move forward (or not) with the sale of the land. But many of Project HOME’s funding streams—from state grants, the city, and Low-Income Housing Tax Credit deals—will expire at the end of August if the money does not come through.

Bad news for Rocky tourists: Philadelphia’s most famous statute (sorry Billy Penn) and selfie magnet will be out of commission for the next two weeks. Coming on the heels of NFL Draft-related construction that periodically made the statute inaccessible, and the demolition of Adrian’s pet store, this hasn’t been a great year for visitors with a mind to visit Ricky-related sites.

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