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Philly plans to install more signage in an effort to prevent people from risking their lives as they cross the street in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, officials told Billy Penn.
A few sets of white stripes stretch across four lanes of traffic as the Ben Franklin Parkway road curves past the museum, running between the famous steps and the Washington Monument Fountain at Eakins Oval.
They’re not official pedestrian crossings. The lines are horizontal from the perspective of a driver, vertical from the perspective of someone trying to walk across the street — the opposite direction from a regular crosswalk.
But people often mistake them for one.
The lines are actually there to mark soft rumble strips that were installed in 2020 to “deter drag racing and other illegal activities taking place,” according to a city spokesperson. Some residents argue that the strips — or at least how they’re demarcated — are confusing and can create unsafe situations.
The area in front of the museum is often full of people, given its proximity to several of Philly’s top tourist destinations, recreational areas, and cultural institutions.
Photos and videos posted to social media have shown pedestrians crossing over the strips to get to the other side of the oval. One recent video shows several people scurrying across the street at that spot from each direction, with one pair of pedestrians just feet away from a moving car at one point.
“Egg on my face I guess but until this very moment I had no idea that wasn’t just a weird crosswalk,” wrote Twitter user @prismxp. “Happy to take the low information pedestrian L or whatever but it makes sense and I’ve used it.”
Another user pointed out the zig-zagging that’s necessary to make it to the fountain via the actual crosswalks that exist.
“This is such an amazing place, full of tourists and people wanting to enjoy our lovely city, and it is SO unpleasant to visit,” wrote user @CyclingPhilly. “To get to the fountain, it takes literally 8 road crossings in 200 yards. It is INSANE.”
Some people think the strips should be painted over to avoid confusion, while others want to see the area closed to cars altogether. Other suggestions included adding a traffic light or speed cameras at that spot.
Signs are already posted to indicate no pedestrian crossing, per the city, but officials are planning to add more signage to direct pedestrians to the actual crosswalks, where there are traffic signals.
Additionally, the Streets Department is working with Parks and Recreation to make sure the chains that are supposed to connect the bollards — the short vertical posts on the sides of the sidewalk — are being maintained, per the city spokesperson.
“It is a priority of the Kenney Administration to improve pedestrian safety by making updates to our roads that deter motorists from speeding, and provide clear signage for all users,” the spokesperson wrote.
No timeline was given for the promised signage, but the city has a long-term plan to redesign the Benjamin Franklin Parkway from Logan Circle to the art museum to make it friendlier to pedestrians and bicyclists.
Last fall, the city tapped the firm Design Workshop to lead the reimagination. The firm’s initial proposal floated pedestrianizing the parkway by eliminating interstate on- and off-ramps and widening the tunnel underneath Eakins Oval. But no final plan for the multi-year project has been announced yet, so it’s unclear as of now how the project would impact traffic flow.
The final product is still years away, with completion of “key aspects” targeted in time for the semiquincentennial celebration in 2026.