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July 13, 2016

Bicyclists, pedestrians get South Street to their own – for one day

Road will be closed as part of an 8-mile path that also includes Schuylkill River Trail and Martin Luther King Drive

Open Streets PHL Bikes
Bike Ride Josh Reynolds/AP

South Street is closing to vehicle traffic from river-to-river Sept. 24 for an open streets even aimed at cyclists and walkers.

South Street, from river-to-river, will close to vehicular traffic for one day this fall and instead will be open only to pedestrians and bike, a city spokesman confirmed Wednesday afternoon

On Saturday, Sept. 24, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., the entirety of South Street — starting at Spruce Street Harbor Park on the Delaware River and extending to the South Street Bridge at the Schuylkill River — will close for the city event promoted by Philly Free Streets.

From there, the path heads to the Schuylkill River Trail and on to Martin Luther King Drive, ending at the Belmont Plateau in Fairmount Park.

In total, the path will run 8.1 miles, with activities planned all along the route.

Open Streets PHL made the announcement in an email blast Wednesday morning and was confirmed by a spokesman for the city a few hours later.

"While a formal announcement will come next month, we can confirm what Deputy Managing Director (Clarena I.W.)  Tolson described at last night’s community meeting in Bella Vista: the City is excited to invite Philadelphians and visitors to participate in “Philly Free Streets,” an open streets event.  Philly Free Streets will promote active transportation--walking and biking--and highlights the intersection of transportation and public health, " said Mike Dunn of the mayor's office.

"Details are still being finalized. The city is continuing to reach out to communities for their input, and additional details will be released following the DNC," added Dunn.

Kenney had spoken of his support for open street events even before being elected mayor. But the administration appears to be committing to just this one event so far. 

Last year's visit by Pope Francis to Philadelphia, which closed down traffic in much of Center City, helped propel plans for the event.

But this event will be more like a block party and less like the papal security box.

“This is a huge win for the city and is the product of countless hours of hard work and planning,” read the release from Open Streets PHL.

LeeAnne Mullins, the chairwoman of Open Streets PHL, said between 550 and 600 volunteers will be needed to staff the 31 intersections along the route.

Open Streets, a nonprofit advocacy group, is seeking volunteers and donations for the event.

Given the decision not to comment further by the mayor's office on Wednesday morning, Mullins declined to add detail beyond what was said at the meeting. She did say the city, which she praised for it leading role in shaping the plan,  intends to integrate art and fitness activities into the event.

She did, though, add that Open Streets hopes to raise $5,000 to match a grant of the same amount from the Knight Foundation.

For information, visit here.