Released: April 10, 2023
Delaware County Council Vice Chair Elaine Paul Schaefer and the Delaware County Planning Department participated in the day-long Vision Zero Conference, held at Temple University on Friday, March 31, to address issues of sustainable mobility and the elimination of traffic-related injuries and fatalities in the region—with a goal of reducing the number of traffic fatalities on our roadways to zero.
In addition to Council Vice Chair Schaefer and the Planning Department, Vision Zero conference participants included a who’s who of transportation-, safety-, and urban planning-focused organizations, including the Federal Highway Administration, the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DCRPC), SEPTA, the Philadelphia Department of Streets, the Philadelphia City Planning Commission, the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials, Families for Safe Streets Greater Philadelphia, as well as representatives from various regional universities and local community groups.
To achieve the goal of reducing traffic fatalities to zero, conference participants and Vison Zero Plan supporters are exploring a comprehensive strategy involving the adoption of neighborhood slow zones, protected bike lanes, speed cameras, and other innovative solutions that look to radically improve safety on our roadways. Once adopted, these improvements have the potential to significantly improve the safety of roadways, including many here in Delaware County, such as the notoriously unsafe Route 291.
A panel discussion titled “Environmental Justice on Route 291,” included Vice Chair Schaefer, who shared information about the multi-stakeholder and multi-municipal effort to improve safety along the Route 291 in Delaware County.
Route 291—a regionally significant thoroughfare located within close proximity of I-95, 322, the Commodore Barry Bridge, 476, and the Philadelphia International Airport—features a wide, straight, multilane roadway that encourages speeding traffic, making it unsafe for residents, pedestrians, and bicyclists and cuts off residents from the waterfront, natural areas, attractions, and job opportunities. Precisely the type of road that Vision Zero Conference participants need to address successfully.
“We currently have a TCDI grant from DVRPC for a study of the corridor that will determine how a “road diet” (making the road skinnier to accommodate for a buffered bike lane) might work to host the East Coast Greenway,” explained Council Vice Chair Schaefer, adding “Route 291 and the Greenway face many challenges, and to address these challenges we must also address the issues of environmental justice that led to the development of a roadway that is a danger to the underserved and underrepresented community it runs through.”
Current plans for the East Coast Greenway—an ambitious plan that will create a single Greenway stretching 3,000-miles through the country’s most populated corridor, spanning 15 states and 450 cities from the Florida Keys to the Canadian border in Maine—includes a stretch of Route 291.
Addressing the existing road infrastructure, planning for future road infrastructure, and considering issues of equity that safeguard the health and safety of the local communities are critical. Delaware County is addressing this issue head-on with its Improving Safety Along Route 291 Project.
“The goal of the project is to listen to the needs and concerns of the residents and community members as we look to find solutions to improve safety for pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers along the corridor,” said Gina Burritt, Director of the Delaware County Planning Department. “We need to find ways to ensure they have safe access to outdoor recreational amenities and to the Delaware Riverfront.”
To help ensure safe access, the Delaware County Planning Department will be hosting an “Improving Safety Along Route 291” listening session on Thursday, April 13, at the Calvary Baptist Church. Residents are urged to attend and share their ideas and vision for an improved Route 291. For more information about participating in the listening session, visit delcopa.gov/291.
The Delaware County Planning has also posted an “Improving Safety Along Route 291” Comment Map, which allows residents who are unable to attend the listening session to share their feedback regarding Route 291 through an interactive Google map-based Comment Map. Residents can access the map online, via their desktop, tablet, or phone at https://maps.kittelson.com/route291 and leave detailed comments regarding their thoughts, concerns, and ideas for improving the Route 291 corridor.
For more about the Vision Zero conference, visit https://bicyclecoalition.org/programs/vision-zero/vision-zero-conference-2023/