Philadelphia’s most dangerous intersection

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Most dangerous intersection in Philadelphia: Roosevelt Boulevard and Red Lion Road (credit Google Maps)

A Google image search for “Roosevelt Blvd” returns many grizzly car crash photos.  This is not unexpected as the notorious Roosevelt Boulevard (US1), built over a period of 60 years last century, is the twelve lane at-grade roadway slicing through densely settled North Philadelphia.

Maintained by PennDOT, the Boulevard sports an atrocious safety record.  A GIS analysis by Daniel McGlone at Azavea Atlas, using PennDOT’s own data, identified statistically significant crash “hot spots” at intersections along Roosevelt Boulevard.  The worst nexus, at Red Lion Road (pictured above), was ranked the second most dangerous in the United States by Insurance Journal.  Over 300 (reported) crashes occurred in two years at this spot where at least 18 traffic lanes intersect.

Notably, while Roosevelt Boulevard contains many complicated intersections, this one is simple: two roadways meeting at a right angle.  It is commonly understood outside of the traffic engineering profession that complex environments induce users to slow down and pay attention, while simple ones induce them to speed.  Stuart Florida’s Confusion Corner, where six streets and a railroad intersect, is known to be paradoxically safe.

Considering the inherent danger automobiles pose, and the large number of people killed and injured by them every day, it is ironic, almost Orwellian, that PennDOT’s safety campaign is titled Just Drive. Translation: “use only the most dangerous form of transportation known to humanity.”  Orwell isn’t lost on PennDOT, however, which is more fittingly, and was formerly, named PennDOH.

Happily, both the safety and utility of Roosevelt Boulevard will be improved in the coming years.  Plan alternatives include the introduction of Bus Rapid Transit, grade separation in some areas, a cycle path, and significant safety upgrades for people on foot.






2 thoughts on “Philadelphia’s most dangerous intersection

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