Photos: Spring Garden St. pop-up greenway offers a glimpse of Spring Garden St.’s potential

Last week, Ashley brought us up to speed on the status of the Spring Garden St. greenway, and told us about an event organized this past Saturday by the Pennsylvania Environmental Council exhibiting a cheap mock-up of the protected bike infrastructure that could be had with some political and financial backing:

On September 20, community volunteers are building a temporary version of the Spring Garden Street Greenway to showcase the possibilities. The westbound lanes on the 900 block of Spring Garden Street, where the Reading Viaduct passes overhead, will be filled with a block party – with food, drinks, and music – as well as a design demonstration for the future greenway.

The Spring Garden Street Greenway would transform the 2.2 miles of Spring Garden Street, river-to-river, with a protected landscaped bikeway in center of the street’s wide median and add pedestrian amenities like curb bumpouts and improved lighting. The greenway would provide a continuous trail connection between the Schuylkill River Trail and Delaware River Trail segments being built. The project would make Spring Garden Street into Philly’s most complete street – our truest balance between cars, transit, bikes, and pedestrians – and promises to make the streetscape look a whole lot more inviting.

The greenway concept has been floated for more than five years, gaining recent steam through robust public input sessions, conceptual designs by Interface Studios, and a final report [pdf] completed last year by the Pennsylvania Environmental Council.

On Saturday afternoon, I went over there to see the finished product. Here are a few photos of the bike lane, which used hay bales, plants, and chalk to mark off the bike zone:

The question of whether the greenway will be situated on the side of the street or along the center median is not fully settled yet. Stakeholder opinion was apparently closely divided, with those favoring the median winning out. Some bicycle advocates have questioned the safety impact of the center orientation, but it’s a bit of a difficult political lift since locating it on the side of the street would mean a 10-20% reduction in curb parking spaces on Spring Garden, and locating it along the median would absorb more stormwater, which is an important part of the rationale for the Environmental Council’s involvement in the project. 

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