Improvements planned for Phila. link to East Coast bike trail

Improved markings will soon help bikers and pedestrians navigate from Spring Garden Street to the Schuylkill River, an initial step in plans for the Spring Garden Street Greenway. (PlanPhilly)

Long overdue bicycle and pedestrian improvements will soon help people cross from 25th and Spring Garden streets to the Schuylkill River Trail -- an early-action step in plans for the Spring Garden Street Greenway.

“The main thing we're trying to do is make it so people can find their way from Spring Garden Street, which is the route of the East Coast Greenway and is one of the few ways to get across town easily, to the Schuylkill River Trail at Lloyd Hall,” said Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities (MOTU) Bicycle/Pedestrian Coordinator Charles Carmalt.

“It’s really about making a seamless connection from Pennsylvania Ave. and Spring Garden Street to the Schuylkill River,” said Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC) Program Manager Tony Spagnoli.

The project also includes improved directional signage.

“The most important piece of this is that way-finding aspect,” Spagnoli said. “People just don’t know where to go.”

Carmalt said the improvements are not rocket science but are expected to help all roadway users -- even drivers.

“It’s amazing how much that type of paint helps,” he said.

The improvements should appear soon. They are included in a current contract, and the contractor has been instructed to get to these sites sooner rather than later.

“This has been a very slow project that has taken a very long time to finally get ready,” Carmalt said, noting that the contract took a long time to get approved.

Spring Garden Street Greenway - Phase One

These roadway markings and the new directional signs were identified in Phase One of the Spring Garden Street Greenway (SGSG) plans. The SGSG effort, led by the PEC, envisions transforming Spring Garden Street into a greened corridor with separated bike lanes for travel between the city’s two rivers and along the East Coast Greenway -- a developing trail system running from Maine to Florida.

“Currently, the Spring Garden Greenway, there’s not a lot of momentum behind it right now,” Spagnoli said.

The PEC is working to assemble funding sources, doing more research and working with MOTU. Funding for these upcoming roadway changes was provided by the William Penn Foundation.

“We have to work with what we have, and we have to work within the financial constraints that we have,” Spagnoli said. “This is kind of the best that we can do for right now.”

Regardless of the full SGSG vision being built, Spring Garden Street is still part of the East Coast Greenway and still provides a vital cross-city bicycle route that these new road markings and signs will enhance.

“I think increasing connections in any fashion helps build positive pressure on building better infrastructure,” Spagnoli said. “A lot of what we’re doing is trying to increase awareness and build a base of support for the greenway, so by doing these small improvements we’re hoping that helps build that base of support.”

This summer the PEC will work with businesses to install more bike racks on Spring Garden Street and with volunteers to plant more trees along the corridor.

“That’s one of the things that we think is just a visual improvement to the corridor,” Spagnoli said. “It doesn’t do much to get a greenway built, except it makes the space a little nicer - that’s our ultimate goal.”  is dedicated to covering design, planning and development issues in Philadelphia. The news website is a project of PennPraxis, the clinical arm of the School of Design of the University of Pennsylvania. It is funded by the William Penn Foundation.