Grocery shoppers are going to the new supermarket on foot and by car, but missing traffic signs in the parking lot are causing an unsafe atmosphere.
Walking from the 1300 residence hall, Shayna Seitchik, a freshman biology major, saw a car slow down at a stop sign and then accelerate straight into a fence near the Fresh Grocer parking lot, located at 1501 N. Broad St.
“I was slightly unsettled because if a driver can’t see a giant fence with shiny signs, how could they see a person?” Seitchik said.
Seitchik is not the only student who has expressed concerns about traffic safety in the area surrounding the new Fresh Grocer, surrounded by Main Campus students shuffling back and forth to classes. Several other students said they do not think the vicinity is pedestrian friendly.
Although Fresh Grocer is a great addition to the area surrounding the community, there are some obvious issues with walkability within and around the newly renovated Progress Plaza.
While shopping, Andrew Wang, a freshman advertising major, said the absence of “stop signs or pedestrian crossing on Park Avenue” – the back entrance along Oxford Avenue – made the area “a little dangerous.”
Without crosswalks, the Park Avenue entrance is the most poorly designed area of the parking lot. By law, regardless of whether there are signs and crosswalks, drivers must yield to pedestrians, but without a physical marking, many will ignore shoppers trying to cross the street.
While drivers who choose to enter the Fresh Grocer parking lot through Park and Oxford avenues avoid the traffic and congestion of Broad Street, the alternate entrance is not much safer for pedestrians.
Shopping carts are stacked up on the walkway in front of Broad Street, posing a problem for pedestrians who are forced to walk directly into the busy parking lot in order to step onto the storefront sidewalk. With cars entering and exiting the busy parking lot onto an even busier street, sometimes barely coming to a rolling stop at the stop sign, customers should be extra cautious and alert.
“I did notice carts blocking the path,” Lindsay Friedenberg, a freshman elementary education major, said. “It’s annoying to squeeze by on the street to get to Broad.”
It doesn’t help that cars are still permitted to park along Broad Street at the entrance of the lot, sometimes blocking the vision of drivers trying to exit Fresh Grocer from seeing oncoming traffic and hindering them from safely exiting.
By the time the driver has pulled out far enough to see if the roadway is clear, half their car is already exposed on the street, forcing oncoming traffic to let them out. Bicyclists, who usually ride next to the parked cars along Broad Street, are also out of the driver’s sight.
Sergeant Kent McGuire of Campus Police said he was surprised to hear about student concerns, but since Fresh Grocer is a privately owned business, employing Temple crossing guards is not an option, he said.
It’s up to the Fresh Grocer to improve traffic conditions outside their store – three speed bumps have already been placed parallel to the main entrance to slow cars while shoppers enter and exit – but some small modifications could help create a much larger sense of safety in the parking lot.
Moving the carts from directly in front of Broad Street to the side of the store could ease pedestrians’ anxieties. Also, employing an area crossing guard, even temporarily, to make sure drivers come to a complete stop could deter potential accidents. Requesting that the Philadelphia Police Department prohibit cars from parking along Broad Street directly in front of Fresh Grocer would also be a good safety precaution to take.
Having a business in Philadelphia raises the responsibility of the store to monitor traffic dilemmas. Broad Street is busy, which makes the area of the parking lot more accident prone. Some small changes can be made with little effort, and since many community members are excited about the supermarket’s opening, helping them feel safer on their trips to pick up some milk and bread can only improve Fresh Grocer’s reputation.
Cary Carr can be reached at email@example.com.