The roundabout under construction at the intersection of Frankford Avenue, Trenton Avenue and York Street in Kensington finally opened Thursday morning, drawing to a close a years-long process of community input, designing and, finally, construction. Residents first met with the city’s streets department way back in March of 2019.
Plans for the roundabout came about as a result of the city’s Vision Zero commitment, which is an international project that started in Sweden that “seeks to eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries nationwide.”
According to the city’s vision zero program, 50 percent of all traffic deaths and severe injuries occurred on just 12 percent of Philadelphia streets, and that 12 percent of streets comprises something called the High Injury Network. Both Frankford Avenue and York Street are part of the High Injury Network.
A 2018 PennDOT study revealed that fatalities, serious injuries, minor injuries and the total number of crashes decreased significantly after roundabouts were installed at 11 Pennsylvania intersections. The data was based on police-submitted crash reports spanning the years 2000 through 2017.
“Our data shows that modern-day roundabouts reduce crash severity and injuries while improving traffic flow,” said PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards at the time. “This underscores why roundabouts are becoming more commonplace in Pennsylvania and beyond.”
Gus Scheerbaum, Director of Strategic Initiatives for the city’s streets department, elaborated on that point during the March 2019 meeting: “The physical geometry of the new intersection forces people to drive more carefully and slowly throughout the intersection,” he said. “When the light is green at a signalized intersection, people are driving at full speed and can even be speeding. People will also drive through the light not realizing that it was changing to yellow or even red and they run it, and that’s when crashes often occur. Speed is what injures people.”