Putting a stop to speeding

Fishtown residents circulate petition calling for stop sign at Frankford and Montgomery avenues

A car flipped near the intersection of Frankford and Montgomery avenues in August after clipping a car at excessive speed. PHOTO COURTESY OF KIMBERLY GEISLER

By Melissa Komar

For Kimberly Geisler, the tipping point was when a car flipped at 2 a.m. a few months ago after clipping a parked car at excessive speed a couple feet in front of her house.

Maybe, it was watching other mothers try to navigate the intersection with their little ones in tow with the precision of the frog in the popular 1980s arcade game.

Perhaps, her husband being involved in a t-bone collision as he tried to make a left turn onto Montgomery Avenue from Frankford Avenue put the wheels into motion.

Or, it might just be all of the above and then some.

“There have been so many very close calls, very close to home and it’s only a matter of time before there is a fatality from this and i’s not worth the risk,” Geisler said.

The creator of the Fishtown Mamas Facebook page and 12-year resident of the 1700 block of Frankford Avenue brought up the issue of speeding at the intersection of Frankford and Montgomery avenues at the reorganizational meeting for the Shissler Advisory Council in June.

Geisler pointed out many neighborhood families and child-based programs, including By My Side, the day camp at Shissler, and My Bright Beginnings which frequent Shissler Recreation Center, 1800 Blair St., and often, the intersection is an unavoidable part of the route to the popular neighborhood playground.

“Living here and watching the neighborhood change and grow, with more families come in over the years, you see a lot of people try to cross at that intersection,” Geisler said, “and, it’s dangerous for there being so many families and high pedestrian traffic in this community, for there not to be a little more of a traffic control at that four-way intersection.”

Safety and halting speeding are the two main concerns for the intersection, according to Geisler.

“ Cars are zooming down Frankford Avenue because of the traffic light both at Berks and Palmer, so they go through the Berks light and gun it to try to get to the next light to make it through it,” Geisler said. “Even the buses are going 50 to 60 miles an hour down Frankford. It’s a residential and highly trafficked street by lots of people.”

Montgomery Avenue resident and Fishtown Neighbors Association at-large board member Jon Geeting shared Geisler’s concerns and created an online petition for a stop sign at the intersection a couple weeks ago, which will be presented to Chuck Davies at PennDOT District 6.

“We all live around there and our kids play over there and the aspect of getting safely to the rec is important,” Geeting said, “and, we thought this would resonate, too, because it’s such a popular way to walk from the El, Penn Treaty School, KCAPA. It’s amazing how that intersection is connected to all these activity hubs in the neighborhood and how much people use it.”

The message is targeted at PennDOT because Frankford Avenue is a state route, but Streets Department and City Council will be involved, according to Geeting.

“There are a lot of cooks in the kitchen for Frankford Avenue, but PennDOT, since they ultimately own the street, is who we’re asking for an intervention here, but really, we’re going to talk to all these parties,” Geeting said.

Former president of Palmer Doggie Depot Jennifer Nelson is joining Geisler and Geeting in their effort.

In addition to the online petition, Geisler, Geeting and Nelson are going door-to-door for residents to sign the petition.

Physical petition signature sheets will be placed at By My Side, My Bright Beginnings, Minnow Lane and Flip Out Productions, where three pages of signatures were collected in a four-day period.

The residents hope to deliver the petition within a couple weeks to get the ball rolling for the installation of a stop sign and a crosswalk.

“We’re aiming high to get them to actually make some real change and getting neighborhood support, so when we go to PennDOT and City Council, we have a decent amount of support to show that people in the community want this change as well,” Geisler said.

Geisler and Geeting hope the petition for a stop sign at Frankford and Montgomery avenues will create a domino effect in regard to action being taken to make other intersections in Fishtown more safe, but realize change can take time.

“We really just want to show neighborhood support for the idea because PennDOT has a million things on their plate and priorities and we really want to try to bump this up on the list because it’s pretty bad,” Geeting said. “We’d really prefer to not spend a year on each crosswalk on Frankford Avenue. It’s more of a pedestrian corridor than maybe it once was 15 years ago. We think the street has to adapt as well to all the pedestrian traffic”

To sign the petition, search “Put a Stop Sign at Frankford and Montgomery Avenues on change.org.