There’s an art to crossing Oxford Avenue in Fox Chase when crosswalks are scarce and traffic is heavy.
“Most people who live around here, you know, develop that art, but it’s dangerous,” said Kate Friend, vice president of the Fox Chase Homeowners Association.
Friend and other community representatives were touring the areas surrounding one of the neighborhood’s busiest intersections, where Oxford Avenue intersects with Rhawn Street and Pine Road. Representatives from the city and those involved with the Philadelphia Complete Streets initiative were getting a feel for the neighborhood and taking notes for improvements to be made.
Complete Streets are a bullet point in the sprawling Philadelphia2035 revitalization plan, with goals to improve safety for pedestrians and bicyclists. The city defines Complete Streets as accommodating to all users of the transportation system, including pedestrians, bicyclists, public transit users and car drivers.
The tour began in Lions Park, heading south and crossing Loney Street on the west side of the avenue. If one wishes to access Joseph’s Pizza, or the nearby Rite Aid or Wawa via crosswalk, they’d have to walk all the way up to the aforementioned Oxford-Rhawn-Pine street web, or all the way down to Oxford and Borbeck. There’s a quarter-mile stretch of no crosswalk between them, which Google Maps estimates is a five-minute walk. Residents not wishing to detour all the way to a crosswalk tend to play Frogger with real traffic.
“There’s nothing that makes you want to walk it,” Friend said of the busy town center area, which the group noted is often short of street parking.
Representatives from Philadelphia Parking Authority, Department of Commerce, Fox Chase Library and the offices of U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle, state Rep. Kevin Boyle and state Sen. John Sabatina Jr. and others helped guide the tour. After turning onto Rhawn Street, the group stopped near Rockwell Avenue and Jeanes Street to observe the parking and traffic conditions near Fox Chase Library and Bethany Church.
A representative from the library noted an incident this past summer when a vehicle crashed into other vehicles parked safely on Jeanes Street, close to the library.
“I just want safe streets for the kids,” she said.
The tour concluded in the parking lot for the SEPTA station, which they noted was not big enough and caused people to park on the street, taking up even more street parking.
“It’s little things like parking and not being walkable that have a huge impact,” said Ken Ray, deputy director of landscape architecture at Toole Design who was there to see how to improve the layout.
The tour is part of the predeterminate phase. Representatives are learning the area before they decide what projects to focus on. Moving forward, Ray and others decided to talk to crossing guards in the area to expand their knowledge.