In 2016, the city of Philadelphia launched the Philly Free Streets event in September. Aimed at having a day to enjoy the roads without the need of a car, the event saw thousands flock to South Street for a chance to run, walk, or cycle around without fear of motor vehicles.
Reported by PhillyVoice, the details of this year’s event have finally been unveiled. According to city officials, Philly Free Streets 2017 will be held on October 28th from 8 AM to 1 PM. 7-miles of road will be closed to vehicles between Third and Chestnut streets in Old City and Fifth and Indiana in Fairhill. “We just want to deemphasize the car for a few hours in a given day so people can enjoy being out here and being safe,” explained city mayor Jim Kenney.
Additionally, it has also been announced that all subsequent Philly Free Streets events will be held at different locations annually. “We wanted to make sure that we brought this experience to every neighborhood,” Kenney said. “This is a city of neighborhoods. For too many years, neighbors like North Philadelphia, Southwest and Frankford and others were not paid attention to.”
Many of the events held previously during the Philly Free Streets of the prior year will be making a return in some capacity this year, including arts and crafts, fitness activities, and mural painting with the Mural Arts Program.
According to a survey conducted by PennPraxis, about 90% of those polled would like a similar Free Streets event held in their neighborhoods, with 65% wishing for an event like this to be a monthly affair. Officials say they would like to hold several events of this nature every year, but cannot at this time due to logistical constraints. At present, they plan to work towards two Free Streets events per year – one in spring and one in fall.
Businesses, too, are excited. 80% of local businesses surveyed wanted to see another Free Streets event happen, with 55% reporting an increase in profits directly related to the event.
“I see Philly Free Streets as being vital for the health and life of our city, because it helps create a social contract that connects all of us,” said Mural Arts founder Jane Golden. “It’s a way to look at our diversity, but within our commonality.”
The excitement over the upcoming Philly Free Streets is easy to see. While multiple events per year may be long off, residents will be sure to enjoy the one they have now.