Lincoln Drive may get speed cameras

by Tom Beck
Posted 12/20/23

After years of Mt. Airy residents clamoring for speed cameras on Lincoln Drive, a new law could grant them their wish.

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Lincoln Drive may get speed cameras


After years of Mt. Airy residents clamoring for speed cameras on Lincoln Drive, a bill signed into law by Gov. Josh Shapiro on Thursday could grant them their wish. The legislation, which has been in the works for about six or seven months, allows the City of Philadelphia to designate five of its roads as “safety corridors” for speed cameras to be installed.

The program is an expansion of the state’s current speed camera program, which only allows speed cameras in work zone areas and on Roosevelt Boulevard. It’s run by the Philadelphia Parking Authority. 

“At the end of the day, the programs work, they save lives and they increase safety,” said Justin Gensimore, the Senate Transportation Committee’s policy director and executive director. “Whether it’s a driver or a passenger in a vehicle, a construction worker, a pedestrian, a bicyclist, a runner, or just someone who commutes to work on foot or walks home from school, everyone deserves to be safe on Pennsylvania roadways and these programs achieve that in a responsive, efficient and effective manner.”

The legislation does not specifically mention Lincoln Drive or any other road in Philadelphia. Instead, it leaves it up to the city to determine which five corridors are most deserving of designation. 

Matt Cassidy, spokesperson for the city’s Office of Transportation, Infrastructure and Sustainability, said he couldn’t comment on what roads would get the cameras, or what criteria would be used to choose them. The decision, he said, would be made by PennDOT, the Philadelphia Parking Authority and City Council.

Because of the logistics that will go into choosing the corridors, he said, “it's not possible for us to say” when a final decision will be made.

“We are still reviewing the legislation to determine exactly what parameters must be met regarding corridor selection,” Cassidy said in an emailed statement. “The key factor will be identifying where the most severe speeding-related crash trends can be addressed to maximize the life-saving benefits of the speed cameras.”

Keisha McCarty-Skelton, spokesperson for the city’s Streets Department, said that the decision would be “data-driven” and made “in conjunction with the state's priorities for speed enforcement.”

If the choice is determined just by citywide ranking on speed-related crashes, Lincoln Drive may not be among the roads that get new cameras. According to data gathered by the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, Lincoln Drive hasn’t cracked the city’s top ten list of roads with speeding-related crashes in the past five years. 

“It’s probably in the ten below that,” said BCGP policy director Nicole Brunet. 

Gensimore, however, did say that in his discussions with PennDOT and other Pennsylvania legislators, Lincoln Drive frequently gets mentioned as “one of the more dangerous roads in Philly.”

District Councilmember Cindy Bass told the Local that adding speed cameras to Lincoln Drive would be “one of the priorities I will be pursuing.”

“Traffic calming is a very important matter citywide,” she said, “but speeding negatively affects many areas of my district.”

Anne Dicker, the incoming president of West Mt. Airy Neighbors, who is also the chair of the organization’s traffic calming committee, said she was disappointed that the legislation only allowed for five corridors to get the cameras. She hopes that number will be expanded in the future.

“We will pursue red light cameras on Lincoln Drive,” she said, “but we have to wait for all of the current projects to be done before we ask for an assessment of that.”

Dicker is referring to PennDOT’s plan to install rumble strips and speed tables along the Mt. Airy portion of Lincoln Drive. Installation of the traffic calming devices started earlier in the fall. 

Gensimore said he couldn’t say why the legislation only allows for five corridors to be selected.

McCarty-Skeleton told the Local that fines for both speeding and red light violations would be $100 each.

Brunet said she couldn’t guess which five corridors in the city would be chosen for designation, but the closest thing to a slam dunk, she said, is North Broad Street. 

North Broad Street, according to BCGP data, is the Philadelphia road with the most speed-related crashes in the city, not counting Roosevelt Boulevard, which already has speed cameras. With 162 speed-related crashes in the past five years, North Broad Street has roughly double the amount of speed-related crashes as the next highest road without speed cameras, Frankford Avenue, which has 77. 

“I believe and I want to see North Broad Street be the first one on the list,” she said. “But there’s so many that I think deserve this – way more than five.”

Still, Brunet said she’s “excited” to see the legislation pass even if it doesn’t go quite as far as she’d like.

“Our main focus of this campaign has been to make the data from the Roosevelt Boulevard program as clear as possible,” she said. “We want to show people that it isn’t a money-making decision, it’s about saving lives and changing driver behavior.”

According to the Pennsylvania State Transportation Advisory Commission, the number of car crashes on Roosevelt Boulevard dropped 36 % between 2019 and 2021 – after 40 speed cameras were installed at 10 different locations.

The legislation also establishes a new pilot program for automated speed cameras in Philadelphia school zones and authorizes a study to determine whether to add them to local streets and highways.

“Speed cameras are critical to the success of the PPA’s overall public safety push,” said the PPA’s Executive Director Rich Lazer. “With the passage of this critically important piece of legislation, we can continue to concentrate on reducing speeding on Roosevelt Boulevard and saving lives.”

Kelly Drive

The City of Philadelphia also reduced the speed limit on Kelly Drive last week from 35 MPH to 25 in an attempt to reduce speeds on that road. It will also be “providing more signage,” said McCarty-Skelton, to curb speeding. Dicker praised the city’s decision.

“I think that the speeding on Kelly Drive directly leads to speeding on Wissahickon Avenue and Lincoln Drive,” she said. “Lowering speed limits has proved to lower speeds, which lowers crashes and reduces traffic fatalities.”