Pope's Visit Converts Car-Free Believers in Philadelphia

The decision to shut down a 4.7-square-mile swath of Philadelphia's Center City on the occasion of the Pope's visit last weekend has converted a lot of new believers to the open streets cause.

1 minute read

October 2, 2015, 12:00 PM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Kevin C. Shelley reports on a growing movement in Philadelphia to ban the use of cars on City Center streets during select weekends. "The proposal, which comes after the traffic ban in Philadelphia’s downtown during Pope Francis’ visit last weekend, was meant to open up roads to cyclists, walkers and rollerbladers," writes Shelley.

So far Mayor Michael Nutter has voiced his support of the idea, and a "petition to ban cars from Center City streets on several summer weekends in 2016 drew more than 2,700 signers by noon Wednesday, a day after going online," reports Shelley. A spokesperson for Open Streets PHL, which launched the petition, credits the support for the idea to "the unexpected enjoyment many experienced as city streets emptied of cars and instead filled with walkers and riders."

Jake Blumgart wrote more for Slate on that subject, calling the car-free streets of the Pope's visit Philadelphia's actual religious experience of last weekend. Writes Blumgart: "Suddenly the area of the city most conducive to car-free living was actually car-free—and the experience was glorious. Pedestrians could step off a curb without anxiety. Bicyclists had plenty of room to maneuver around anyone who happened into their paths. Children could play outside without giving their parents panic attacks."

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