N. 5th Street Traffic Meeting – Minutes from Mar 9 Meeting


Sign Down7 to 9pm at the Northern Liberties Community Center (700 N. 3rd Street)

Meeting with City Coucil, Streets Dept, and Planning Commission reps to discuss solutions to 5th St traffic and safety issues. 



UPDATE: UNOFFICIAL minutes, courtesy of neighbor Susan DeAngelus

Also, for a brief writeup, PlanPhilly.com has a nice story – click here

5th Street Traffic and Safety Discussion

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Start 7:10P


  • Traffic safety on 5th street
  • We will talk about other areas, like 2nd Street
  • Tonight is 5th Street emphasis
  • Will take comments on other issues
  • No solutions tonight but clear sense from Streets & City to have basis for next steps;
    6-months to 12-months

Corey Bell, Aide to Council President Darrell Clark, District 5

Mike Carroll, Deputy Commissioner Streets Department

Kisha Duckett, Streets Department Traffic Engineer

5th Street residents are extremely unhappy

  • Poor sight lines, like George Street
  • Speeding
  • Rolling through stop signs
  • Dangerous for bicycles


Matt Ruben (NLNA President): Let’s be clear and direct about concerns, and also civil and productive in tone

CB: aide to Council President Darrell Clark, former neighbor, familiar with 5th Street, will be taking notes; has been working on this since February 2015 when Steve Stanek submitted the proposal/petition

MC: some constraints due to other user considerations; can do something but need to see what the impact is; beginning of the conversation; concept to reality; stay engaged to make things better


Brett Cohen (5th near Girard): formerly lived on 5th near George; understand there is protocol to follow; traffic study? Not just traffic, pedestrians, being safe, cyclists; study how scary it is to cycle (less scary to make bad choices for cycling on other streets than being on 5th Street); what can we do to help?

MC: there is a bias that “traffic” equals cars; pedestrians and cars are traffic; incorporate all modes of transportation; trying to get past to see equity

Stephanie Berrong (900 block North 5th Street): traffic study complete?

MC: there will not be a document to review; field study to be done with different samples of sight lines to be tested; no PPT presentation but data will be collected and options will be developed based on the data; won’t be able to compile anything but will be working on the situation

SB: assessment done at rush hour?

MC: don’t just focus on rush hour; there are more cars but they are moving at a slower rate because of capacity

Steve Stanek: rush hour is when more people are on foot with children and more cars

Rachel: other neighborhoods have a flashing red light on their stop signs or near the school, the school crossing signal with flashing light; is that an option for us at 5th & Brown? A simple flashing red light for the existing stop sign; low visibility

Causes for low visibility: trees, cars parked too close to the corner; vans (tall work vehicles); coming off the expressway

MC: we will take a look, may not be the solution; blowing through stop signs could be a sign of not actually seeing the sign

Question: what is the speed limit?

Answer: 25 mph

Not adequate signage; had to walk the 5th Street corridor for awhile before seeing a sign

(I know of two signs on 5th Street, one on the left in the middle of the 900 block of 5th Street and one on the right side. I use them as markers to my house. They are in the middle of the block near too many trees and light poles. There should be more on the 700 and 800 blocks. – SHD)

Gwen Devereaux: For 38 years I have tried to get something done at 5th & Brown; see how many tickets have been issued there, how many accidents; I’ve been trying to get a traffic light at Brown; I asked a police officer what it would take, the response was not enough deaths

MC: I wish he hadn’t said that…

Stop signs: blowing through, ignoring/not seeing, speeding

MR: why are two lanes being controlled by a stop sign?

MC: A light might not have the desired effect.

Q: What will induce people to stop?

A: Enforcement

Dave (5th & Brown): Let’s try another solution; the wide road gives the impression you are to drive fast, drivers aren’t inclined to stop; how about tightening up the road, curb build outs, cushions; this is a residential area, Bainbridge recently upgraded their medians and added more visibility to their crosswalks; “road diet”

We need a healthy does of what can actually be

  • Walking with two children and dogs and cars come menacingly close
  • Realistic hope to see something done
  • Motorcyclists, 15 individuals; one slowed and rolled through the stop sign, all other 14 blew through the intersection
  • Being pregnant, I can’t get through the intersection fast enough and I feel invisible; 5th & Poplar not well lit

There is no stopping all night; we need enforcement; with a light, the drivers will probably speed up to try to beat it; enforcement would happen but only when called; what about a red light camera?

Speed is an issue, what about a speed camera

Mike: speed cameras are illegal in Pennsylvania

Speed readers?

Mike: We had one on 5th Street and it was vandalized

Michael (5th and Brown): what about a speed bump? (applause), make it just high enough to encourage drivers to slow down

MC: there is a process to request speed cushions; petition process to indicate specifically that this is what is wanted; since there is a consistency about this issue, we can put forth a trial with temporary cushions; have been trying this out in other residential neighborhoods; as 5th Street is arterial, it may address some of the issues; they are not designed to damage cars and emergency vehicles can manage them without delay

MR: could happen?

John (Plan Philly): 1,000 ft. spaced out from a speed restriction device (i.e. stop sign, light, etc.)

Mike: two exceptions; one if the Commissioner says it needs to happen and a pilot program

Q: Are we talking about the trapezoidal cushion?

A: Yes

5th & Poplar: badly lit intersection, there is an aging population in this area as well as many more children, we need some kind of breaking up of the distance from stop sign to stop signs and lights

(Light at Spring Garden Street to light at Fairmount Avenue; stop sign at Brown Street; stop sign at Poplar Street; light at Girard Avenue. – SHD)

MC: can’t do both speed cushions and additional stop signs – one or the other

MC: Crossings: for clear lines of sight, need to lose parking spots near where any new crosswalks are painted

Parrish to Poplar: no parking on West side of the street; “No Parking” signs may be illegal/not official City signs

Q: How to discourage the motorcyclists?

MR: Speed cushions may deter them.

Linda: my daily commute takes me through 7th Street; just having the lines repainted on 7th has made a world of difference – improvement

Parking authority needs to enforce the illegal parking at the corners, to increase sight lines/visibility

Girard has no lines painted either

MR: pretend that money isn’t an issue: any reason not to add curb bump outs at corners where crosswalks are?

MC: some may not work if they are a bus route and the bus needs to make a turn; but no opposition to curb bump outs where they are feasible

SS: let’s bring the focus back to 5th Street from Poplar to Girard; we play “Frogger” every night because there is no place to cross safely; can we get a mirror for George Street so it isn’t a blind entrance onto 5th Street; there are three (3) blind turns along that stretch of the street (George on the right, Cambridge on the left, church parking lot on the right)

6th Street: is this used as a reverse traffic pattern for those going up on 5th Street?

It’s much easier but it’s one lane until Fairmount and there is a slight dip in the road, which is causing a “reverse traffic cushion” due to the slope.

Q: PennDOT owned?

MC: Not this section

Q: Is there a potential for a protected bike lane? (Lots of applause); “5th Street Raceway”

MC: With a bike lane, 2-lane street, plus parking on both sides of the street, it is all not possible; for a bike lane, we’d have to lose a driving lane or parking.

Neighbor: There are no shared lanes; they don’t actually work.

Neighbor: What is the goal: safety or traffic flow?

MC: there are 5,000 cars daily using 5th Street, some may divert with the proposed changes to the street, will 5th Street work better? If we close down one lane it will take time and need legislation and council approval.

BC: with the discussion of the bike lane marker, what about Randolph Street? Change the direction?

KD: what blocks?

MR: 900 to 1100 blocks (Poplar to Girard)

KD: submit a petition to specify which direction you want it to go; need 70% of the blocks being represented

Speed bumps on 2nd Street? They didn’t do anything and people drove over them just as fast or diagonally due to their car make; made more noise

MR: speed grooves were cut in by Tower Properties; due to the complaints of noise, they were filled back in – not the same thing as the city’s speed cushions.

MR: We could have a pilot program for the speed cushions and if noise doesn’t become an issue?

John Geeting, PlanPhilly: What about bump outs on alternating sides to swerve

MR: Like San Francisco?

MC: You’d have to give up parking

5th Street crosses Fairmount and it curves slightly; your parked car can get hit if the other driver doesn’t correct for the slight curve

MR: striping and lane narrowing from Callowhill to Fairmount; lane widths are excessive, encourages “speedway.” Could lanes be narrowed to normal width, and use leftover width to make protected bike lane? The 5th Street tunnel project should be done in June by the Delaware River Port Authority; it will have a protected bike lane, what about extending that down the road to Spring Garden or Fairmount?


  • Speed cushions
  • Road diet/curb bump out
  • No crosswalk at George Street (from West to East on North 5th Street)
  • Too wide at Spring Garden


2nd St: Crosswalks at El Camino – Liberties Walk? We are aware of them because we use them. No one is respecting the current crosswalks; not enforced, false sense of security

MR: 2nd St from Brown to Girard is a borderline of two council districts; 5th is in Clark’s district, 2nd is Mark Squilla; we’ll be sure to connect the two councilmen together

MR: Germantown to Poplar, there are lights on either end but nothing in the middle. Liberties Walk to the Piazza is a major crosswalk; small asphalt ramps were installed at the curb by Tower Investments, at NLNA’s request, for ADA access, but they are not official city ada ramps, because it would have taken city approval for cuts and ADA compliance too long to get anything done; in the meantime, asphalt ramps were installed; everything was done by Tower, not by the city; there was a sign in the middle of the road about pedestrian safety but it was run over, several times

MR: Wildey and 2nd Street: there is illegal parking up to the corner; you are taking your life into your hands turning on 2nd Street from Wildey, just like when you are turning from George Street onto 5th Street

5th Street: do these measures actually stop the other behaviors

MC: no, it’s an enforcement issue

Used to be an officer sitting at intersections to enforce stop signs, but the 6th district has had its hands full covering Old City on the weekend nights – but they might be available during daytime non-peak hours

Can we clarify curb bump outs? They are a problem on Girard Avenue

MR: The issue on Girard is that there are also the trolley tracks, makes the lanes very narrow; not a problem on 5th or 2nd – in fact we already have them on 2nd at Poplar, Brown, and Fairmount

Traffic light at 2nd & Wildey? A possibility? Revisit the assessment done previously? Near misses are never reported and many incidents are not reported.

Roneil (Brown & American): I park at 2nd & Front or 2nd & Brown many times; car has been broken into twice since October; lots of broken glass under the bridge; uneasy that I can’t park a block and a half from my home or friends and neighbors have the same issue; cameras for traffic but need police enforcement

CB: Connect private footage with the police network; use your footage to help

MR: See if someone will aim a private camera to the troubled area; connect with Councilman Squilla, District 1

At the Comcast building, there is a protected crosswalk with lights and is very noticeable

MC: Comcast paid for the lights

MR: Piazza and Liberty Walk are willing to do something but maybe not to that extreme; get Corey, Mike, and Kisha to talk with Westminster Apt Group (current management company of most of Piazza and Liberties Walk)

Start a traffic fund? On gofundme.com?

Parking at St. Peters: signage is moveable; you park and the sign isn’t there, you return to your car, the sign is there and you have a ticket

MR: there is a large parking lot on the West and East side of 5th Street that is always empty; no parking loading zone on the street; signs have been removed

BC: buses are there for weddings and events; an hour for a week maybe; is there a guideline?

What can be done to gain back the parking spots the church has effectively taken?

Contact with the church?

KD: we are aware of the situation and will review their original request; if buses are not there as much as they said, we will revisit the issue; we are aware of the signage removal and vandalization

Bodine is two-way but it is so narrow (as is Wildey and Cambridge) (2-way? – SHD)

MR: for many years, there were the stables there and the owner needed access to the horses, now that he’s moved and it’s more vehicle traffic, it could be a converted to one-way if people want

KD: submit a petition for the desired direction; any interested person can start a petition; be specific on the petition

MC: many are rejected because the request is too vague

Jennifer (3rd & Green): there is an accident weekly on this corner; there are legal parking spots but they are still causing visibility issues; West side of Green, traffic on 3rd

Sasi (4th & Green): green angles from 5th to 2nd Street; 8 lot spaces; create sight line issues; (reviewed maps she created with Corey, Mike, and Kisha to indicate the problem specifically)


Christina: lived here for 30 years; parking is at issue; offer something to the church to use the parking lots overnight; be out by 7AM; monetary donation?

MR: maybe lease spots to individual residents?

Speed cushion: how long? What is the official length?

Crosswalk on 2nd near Piazza, what if it was raised up? Force cars to slow down?

Have to connect with the owner/manager of Piazza

Enforcement of illegal parking and traffic violations

Bodine: being used as a through street; it is very narrow; no speed signs; there are small children on my block and it is essentially an alley street

MC: we could redirect the traffic in the non-prevailing direction

Q: Speed limit sign?

MC: Petition to redirect the street

Q: “Drive Carefully” signs?

Q: What is the critical path for signage?

KD: I have taken note of it and will submit the request.

Paula Gansky: speeding on Bodine?

They don’t live here and are looking for a cut through or parking.

Bollards? How to get them installed?

MC: You need a permit.

Painting lines? They are fading; the street was resurfaced but not lines were redone

On Girard, SEPTA may have not connected with the Streets department to get the lines done and the Streets department may not have finished before the season; can’t paint lines in the winter months.

Take photos of where striping may have an effect?

DIY: What measures can we do on our own?

MC: Develop concepts and let’s participate and discover what we can all do and what is possible

Christina: Neighbors put up signs for the cul-de-sacs; cars are speeding into them backwards; they are separate from the street

MR: no sidewalks? If these are not deeded to the properties, is this area a city responsibility?

CB: I’ll continue to work with Christina.

MR: Notes have been taken down and between all the ideas and concepts, we can move forward

  • Westminster & Streets
  • Revisit 2nd St Streets Dept traffic assessment from 2014
  • Need to sort out all of the ideas
  • Narrowing of the lanes on 5th from Callowhill to Spring Garden?

Please sign in and we’ll get you updates; Friends of 5th Street; this is not the last of this discussion.

End meeting: 8:40P

Notes as recorded by Susan Hutton DeAngelus (900 block North 5th Street)