5th Square Weekly Newsletter: January 23, 2018


5th Square is gearing up for the 2018 state legislative elections, and last week we submitted questionnaires to all known candidates about the state-level issues Philly's urbanist movement cares about, like Vision Zero, housing, and transit. We'll be posting candidates' responses on our blog as they are available, and will be issuing our endorsements this winter. We have an amazing opportunity to leverage our community to send several urbanist champions to Harrisburg, and we need all of your help to make the most of it. Want to get involved? The best ways to help right now are by signing up for a recurring monthly donation of $5 or more, and signing up to host a house party for a 2018 candidate.

Take PennDOT's survey on pedestrian and biking infrastructure. 
Pennsylvania's Department of Transportation is updating their Statewide Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan and they need to hear from Vision Zero supporters. State routes within Philadelphia are some of the most dangerous streets for pedestrians in the City, and that's by design. State highway engineers are more concerned with moving cars quickly than with safety for people outside of cars. Take the survey and tell PennDOT to put pedestrians first on our city streets


Tuesday, January 23rd, 5:30 pm
Future In Focus: 2018 Celebration!
The Department of Planning & Development’s sixth annual event to mark progress on the Philadelphia2035 Citywide Vision and District Plans will feature Mayor Jim Kenney and Dekonti Mends-Cole*, Vice President, Mid-Atlantic, Global Philanthropy; JPMorgan Chase as speakers. Guests will receive free copies of the Phila2035 2018 Progress Report & Calendar. The 45-minute program starts at 6:00pm with networking afterward.

Thursday, January 24th, 8:00 am
Active Design/Healthy Communities: State of the City
The AIA Philadelphia’s Active Design/Healthy Communities Committee, in partnership with Fit City PHL will kick off the 2018 series of conversations about the intersection of health and design. This event will include a presentation about the current Health of the City followed by a case study and conversation about how the new South Philadelphia Community Health Literacy Center connects health and urban design on the ground.

Monday, January 29th, 7:00 pm
5th Square - West Philly Supporters Meet-up
5th Square is venturing into forming neighborhood activist committees to work on local issues, and we're starting this experiment in West Philly. These groups will be tasked with choosing local issue priorities, running their own campaigns, joining their neighborhood institutions, and growing Philly's urbanist movement from the ground up. Come meet other West Philly-based supporters and help make a difference where you live.

Thursday, February 1st, 8:00 am
Commerce and PIDC talk Amazon HQ2 at Design Advocacy Group
Design Advocacy Group’s January meeting features an off-the-record discussion with Sylvie Gallier Howard, chief of staff at the Commerce Department, and Anne Nevins of PIDC, two key players behind the City of Philadelphia’s Amazon HQ2 bid.


An ambitious plan to remake Philadelphia’s trolleys took a step forward with a new report detailing plans for stops with platforms raised above street level that will be wheelchair-accessible and would remake the trolleys into something more like light rail. The trolley modernization project is being shaped by twin demands: capacity and accessibility. The nearly 40-year-old cars are packed even when it isn’t rush hour, and SEPTA anticipates ridership growing by half a percentage point a year for the foreseeable future. The changes have the potential to reshape streets, shifting areas where cars and bikes travel and eliminating some parking spaces. SEPTA and the city expect to hold community meetings in the neighborhoods that would be affected by the trolley modernization.

The Police Department, Center City District, and other city officials are developing a plan to increase street safety enforcement by bringing more police on the street devoted to traffic enforcement as part of the Vision Zero action plan. The city’s consistent growth over the last decade has contributed to making center city streets such a Walnut, Chestnut, and Market among the most dangerous in the city. With more police focusing on traffic enforcement the program aims to help reduce preventable traffic related accidents and deaths but also raises concerns about discrimination and biased policing. The city is looking to other tools to ensure fairness such as red-light cameras, speed cameras and the use of radar guns.

According to a new report, bad street design is disproportionately impacting historically marginalized groups in America. The report, “Dangerous by Design 2016” ranks every state and more than 100 major metropolitan areas by what it calls the Pedestrian Danger Index, which assess the likelihood of a car hitting a pedestrian by comparing the rate of pedestrian deaths in an area to the rate of people who walk to work. Many deaths occur on streets with fast-moving cars and poor pedestrian infrastructure. These streets are not designed to serve everyone in the community. So long as streets are built to prioritize high speeds at the cost of pedestrian safety, this will remain a problem.

Philadelphia made the list of Amazon’s 20 HQ2 contender cities. Whittled down from a list of 238, a close inspection of the cities on the list includes a heavy line up of big East Coast cities and some noticeable patterns. What the 20 have in common is that they have all worked hard to nurture lively, walkable downtowns and build quality public spaces for socializing. Virtually all boast good, multimodal transit systems and international airports that help network them into the larger world. They also are home to big universities and are all places where young tech workers would be willing to live.


Pedestrian advocacy group Feet First Philly is looking for steering committee members

The Trust of Public Land is hiring a Philadelphia program manager

Philadelphia Parks Alliance is hiring a development manager

Drexel's Master of Science in Urban Strategy program is accepting fall applications

5th Square is Philadelphia's urbanist political action committee. We're an all-volunteer grassroots organization advocating for safe and affordable transportation, abundant housing, and more and better public spaces. You’re receiving this email if you signed up via our website, attended one of our events, or supported one of our advocacy campaigns. Our work is made possible by generous, passionate people like you. Support our advocacy.