Philadelphia: The city has lost control of its sidewalks

By Inga Saffron

Philadelphia Inquirer Architecture Critic

Apr. 11, 2008

There are close to 1.5 million people living in Philadelphia, and every one of them is a pedestrian at one time or another. Yet City Hall sometimes seems surprised to learn that people travel on two feet.

Pity Philadelphia's walking majority. Its precious sidewalks are increasingly being taken in brazen landgrabs by the city's powerful construction industry, which erects flimsy chain-link fences to mark turf, sometimes for the sole purpose of allowing contractors to park for free. The pedestrian's daily passage is further challenged by smelly dumpsters, concrete barriers erected in the name of homeland security, and awkwardly designed wheelchair ramps ...

... With all those obstructions, Philadelphia's boast of having the most walkable downtown in America is going to be a harder sell. It's time, Kenney argues, to make good on the claim by taking back the sidewalks for everyone who lives - and walks - in Philadelphia.

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