The Benjamin Franklin Parkway will see a continuation of improvements that will one day transform the grand boulevard into a pedestrian oasis, not only filled with outdoor and cultural activities and spaces, but a well connected, safe thoroughfare fit for leisure strolls, connecting to surrounding neighborhoods and biking. More Park, Less Way, was unveiled last week by Department of Parks and Recreation and PennPraxis, offering lighter/quicker/cheaper interventions for making the Parkway a more vibrant, lived-in space.
Originally intended as a grand boulevard and civic space adorned with the city's prized cultural institutions and a processional gateway to Fairmount Park, the Parkway's use fell short of it potential at the dawn of the automobile age. The country became more auto-focused, handing control of the Parkway over to drivers, reflecting the nation's preference towards automobile.
As the city redirects focus on the pedestrian, More Park,Less Way envisions the Parkways as a public space for local residents and tourists rather than simply an eight-lane thoroughfare. Future plans focus on ensuring the comfort and safety of pedestrian and bicycle movement along and across the Parkway. A few Planning features have already been implemented along the parkway totaling $19.1 million in 2010. Those changes included removal of a vehicle travel lane in each direction to build street parking and bike lanes, redevelopment and landscaping at the Rodin Museum, and the complete redesigning of Sister Cities Park.
Future plans include removing the parking from Eakins Oval and turning the area into a flexible, public space, a feature which can be seen as early as Memorial Day. Future goals will be to draw upon the 70,000 Philadelphian's living within a ten minute walk of the Parkway; Capitalize on the large, underutilized open spaces adjacent to neighborhoods; provide reliable and dependable public transportation to and from the Parkway; Provide high-quality and dependable programing, food, conveniences, designed parks; and create a Parkway district funding stream, just to name a few.