What’s the problem?
Philly has a growing traffic problem. There is not a single cause; a Philadelphia Inquirer experiment in which several staffers to travel across the city and note which factors were the biggest traffic hazards and what suggestions they had to remedy them. We are an old city, with narrow streets that are easily clogged. Whether it’s buses stopping on almost every corner, pedestrians who don’t adhere to the lights (or are pushed into the streets due to construction), road repair, bikes that don’t have bike lanes, ride share cars stopping to pick up or drop off passengers or some other obstacle, it’s a headache getting around center city.
How are other cities handling it?
Similar cities around the globe have struggled with this issue with a variety of solutions. For example, London charges people to travel within the city limits at the busiest time of day, and some cities have made changes to how the pedestrians cross streets. More bike lanes would help, but, due to our weather and the unchangeable width of our streets, it’s certainly not enough. In my opinion, the major issue is delivery trucks.
Deliveries are the biggest offender
While everyone knows that retail store fronts have been continuing to suffer since Amazon’s rise, it doesn’t mean that Americans are buying less. Instead, it means they are having more things delivered. And that means more trucks on the roads and clogging the streets. In certain locales, these delivery trucks are just something to drive around–no big deal. But in Philadelphia and similar older cities with narrow streets, it has become a huge traffic problem.
What can be done?
Philadelphia is considering designating more loading zones, and, while drones are definitely coming, it doesn’t seem like tight city streets are the place for them. I think the idea with the most promise is following Paris’s lead in requiring large delivery trucks to offload into warehouses that then send smaller vehicles into town with deliveries. Although smaller cars/vans would still have to stop to deliver packages, they would be easier for other motorists to drive around. Additionally, due to having fewer packages to sort through, the stop would theoretically take less time. An extreme, but perhaps viable part of this solution would be UPS tricycle van delivery.
I certainly don’t know the answer to this complex problem, other than figuring out teleportation for people and things (as in “Beam me up, Scotty”). Yeah, I know; it’s a good thing I’m not in charge of tackling the traffic issue. Fortunately, it it does seem that the city recognizes it and is actively working on ways to improve it. Between looking at what other cities have done and conducting local research, I am cautiously optimistic that we will see some positive change.