Sunday, April 13, 2014

How One Crosswalk Could Bring Hundreds More to the Zoo

The Philadelphia Zoo sits just upstream from Boathouse Row
On beautiful days like today, thousands of locals and visitors take to the Schuylkill River Trail. Many complete the full "Schuylkill Loop" which goes all the way to the East Falls Bridge and back down West River Drive. The entire experience is one of our city's best assets.

What could be included in the journey is the Philadelphia Zoo. Walking to the Zoo from Center City is a breeze. The Girard Avenue Bridge is a short walk from Boathouse Row, and the bridge carries pedestrians straight across to the Zoo. So why aren't hundreds of these recreationalists finding themselves wandering into the Zoo on their weekend strolls? Because walking to the Zoo from Center City isn't the breeze it should be.

The Girard Avenue Bridge does have a staircase to take pedestrians to the street from Kelly Drive, but there are two problems. The lower portion of the staircase is gone. It's an easy enough hill to climb, but the other obstacle is even more difficult to overcome: Kelly Drive.

Only those with a death wish would dart across Kelly Drive, and they do it all the time, either to access the bridge or to park on the east side of the Drive.

It's a simple solution: a crosswalk. There's no crosswalk between Sedgley Drive and Fountain Green Drive, and Girard lies exactly in the middle. But the one simple solution could do so much more than just get people safely across the Kelly Drive Freeway.

Pedestrians who often ignore the Zoo as a need-to-drive endeavor can easily find themselves strolling across Girard and into the Zoo. That's money. Also, those on the Schuylkill River Trail would be able to access the Glendinning Rock Garden, the lower Fairmount Park's greens and mansions, and reach Centennial Park and the Belmont Plateau on foot. Residents near Girard Avenue, cut off from the Schuylkill River by Kelly Drive, will be able to reach the river in minutes.

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