Philly drivers are crazy to begin with, but what happens when a traffic light ceases to be a traffic light?
There’s been a signal at Broad and Jackson for who knows how long, but last Friday on my way to the subway I noticed that the light was out, and the intersection was a free-for-all. The cars on Broad Street seemed to think they had the right of way (being on a wide four-lane state highway with parked cars for a median), while the cars on puny little one-lane one-way Jackson Street just tried to sneak through across the intersection. The ones turning right from Jackson onto Broad had it easier. Woe to the driver insane enough to try a left turn onto Broad!
Even though Chapter 2 of the PA Driver’s Manual, “Signs, Signals and Pavement Markings”, clearly states that “[a] non-functioning traffic signal should be treated as though it were a four-way STOP sign”, does the city of Philadelphia really expect that drivers remember those silly rules from their learner’s permit days? Apparently not! Sometime over the weekend, big bright red stop signs were installed at each corner of Broad and Jackson.
Did this help the situation? Watch and learn!
The poor woman yelling “stop sign!” at all the drivers had been walking her dog and made several attempts to cross the street. She’d been waiting for about five minutes when she finally got fed up and marched right into the intersection. I myself did the same thing, because no one—seriously, no one—was stopping for pedestrians.
What if there was an emergency on or around the Parkway while an event was happening? Amost every weekend something is going on in and around the Parkway, Art Museum, or Drives. The city in an attempt to be prepared is having an emergency drill tonight.
This Monday night drill will impact driving, Septa lines, and give you cause to wonder, “What’s going on?”
The following is from the READY PHILADELPHIA site about tonights exercise.
Road Closures and Detours
Road closures and detours will be in effect from approximately 6:45 p.m. to 9:45 p.m. The Police Department will barricade these locations:
Fairmount Avenue and Kelly Drive (inbound only)
Traffic will be detoured onto Fairmount Avenue. Right onto Pennsylvania to 21st Street, right onto 21st Street back to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
25th Street and Kelly Drive (inbound)
No traffic permitted into Eakins Oval.
25th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue
Access to the Art Museum and Spring Garden Street Bridge will be through the Spring Garden Street Tunnel ONLY.
Spring Garden Street and Pennsylvania Avenue
Spring Garden Street traffic will access the tunnel for travel to West Philadelphia.
Eakins Oval at the outbound Kelly Drive entrance
No traffic permitted into Eakins Oval. This closure will allow outbound Parkway traffic to go north onto Kelly Drive.
Monday, August 6, 2007
6:45 p.m. to 9:45 p.m.
Exercise: 8:00 to 9:00 p.m.
Eakins Oval, Benjamin Franklin Parkway
This is only a drill – there is no impending threat to the citizens of Philadelphia or the region.
During this exercise, residents should expect to see a large number of Fire and Emergency Medical vehicles, as well as private ambulances, responding to Eakins Oval, Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Residents should understand that there is no actual emergency.
The traffic lights were out on Market Street this morning between 30th and as far as my eyes could see west, maybe 34th or 36th. This made for a very interesting scramble for us pedestrians as there was nary a traffic control officer to be found and most of us had to cross the street to get to our respective universities. About half of the cars slowed down a little bit as they approached intersections. The SEPTA buses, no surprise here, took the opportunity to barrel down the street and blow through the dead lights with apparent glee.
For future reference, drivers, when the traffic lights are out you treat the intersection as a four way stop. See that word? STOP? That goes double for you, SEPTA buses. Anyone who’s driven in Philadelphia should be very familiar with four way stops, no excuses.
My pedestrian bravery was rewarded with a free promotional Shift Energy drink at 34th and Walnut. All natural, all organic, nice idea. Unfortunately it tasted a little gross. I think they should have formulated it without milk. I just finished mine a few minutes ago; I’m waiting for my energy boost from those Brazilian Acai berries.
To Whom It May Concern:
I’d like to bring to your attention the traffic light at the intersection of 21st and Race. When the eastbound light turns red, the southbound light does not turn green in response to the alternate light turning red for a full minute. I know because this the primary route I use to return home from school three days a week. I inevitably find myself sitting at that light for extended periods of time, while no one moves. Sometimes, an impatient driver (a group I am soon considering joining) will tire of staring at an intersection where there is no legal movement, and will gun themselves through the light. Pedestrians don’t know what to do, and so look blankly at the light for 30 seconds before deciding to risk it and dash across the street. Only, they always decide to dash just as the light finally turns green, and then the irritated drivers nearly hit them, because they are also tired of sitting at the light. Please shorten the time during which both lights are red. Someone is going to get hurt if it stays the way it is.
A concerned driver
Courteous drivers are fairly rare in Philadelphia. I used to be one back when I lived in Portland, OR, but over the last five years, the driving norms of Philly have infiltrated my being and I now find myself running reds, cutting people off and oftentimes forgetting to give a polite wave of thanks when someone lets me in.
Tonight, while I was being a pedestrian instead of a driver, I happened to see an unusual event. There was a man in an early model GM sedan going west on Sansom Street, just about to cross 18th Street. The traffic up ahead of him was backed up, and so if he proceeded through the light, which was still green, he ran the risk of getting stuck in the middle of the intersection, frustrating oncoming traffic in the meantime. So instead, he waited and missed the light. The traffic was still backed up, so his fears of getting caught in the middle would have been founded, but this didn’t stop the woman in the car behind him from putting an elbow on her horn and leaning out the window to scream at him.
He was unfazed by it, and responded simply by saying, “I didn’t want to block the box. Will you please calm down?” I crossed in front of his car, and nearly stopped to thank him for his polite manner. I don’t know what stopped me, but I was momentarily struck mute.
So I’d like to take this forum to say thank you to the driver of this car, who was at the intersection around 4:55 pm this afternoon. I wish there were more drivers on the road like you and you inspire me to approach driving with patience and a calm attitude.
Our Vice President is speaking at the Bellevue Building (where the Park Hyatt and Zanzibar Blue are) today around noon. Movement around Broad, Walnut and the City Hall area will be restricted.
So, you know, don’t freak out during lunch when you can’t hit up the gourmet food court in the basement or get your Starbucks fix.
To the owner of the grey-silver Saab parked on Locust between 24th and 25th Streets….
Your lights are on.
Have a lovely evening.
Image credit: Saab USA.
I experienced a full-on Philadelphia miracle last night. I was driving east on Market Street, trying to get to the Ritz Bourse to meet my friends for a movie (I don’t normally drive to the movies, but it was so freakin’ cold last night). I was in the left lane and there was a moving van parked in the right lane up ahead, and a cab in that lane coming up on the truck. The cab needed to get over, and instead of trying to cut me off, he slowed down. I slowed down to let him over, and he gave me a nice wave once he was in front of me.
Let me repeat. I got a courtesy wave from a cab driver in Center City Philadelphia.
It was a first, a miracle. It’s given me hope that many more things that I always thought were impossible now have the potential to occur.