Oct 7, 2021

Axios Philadelphia

Welcome to Thursday, Philly! Glad you could join us.

  • 🌤️ Partly sunny with a high near 77. We'll take it.

Today's newsletter is 964 words — a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Traffic fatalities surge in 2020
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Data: City of Philadelphia; Chart: Thomas Oide/Axios

Traffic fatalities spiked in Philadelphia last year, despite fewer drivers spending time on the road during the pandemic.

Driving the news: The city on Wednesday released its annual Vision Zero report, which found that last year's crash fatalities in Philly skyrocketed 88% over the previous year.

  • "People are lead-footing around this town ... and they're driving like idiots," Mayor Jim Kenney said at a news conference Wednesday. "The pandemic ... has made people do things they normally wouldn't do, like driving crazily fast and doing insane stuff with cars in Center City."

By the numbers: 156 people were killed in traffic-related crashes in Philly last year, according to the report.

  • Aggressive driving and speeding accounted for 42% of fatal and serious injury crashes.

The intrigue: Traffic volume dipped 18% last year, compared with 2019.

  • And overall crashes decreased from the previous year.

Zoom out: Traffic deaths were up 6% last year across the state, according to Pennsylvania's Department of Transportation.

Between the lines: Philadelphia's traffic violence disproportionately affects Black and brown communities and low-income neighborhoods, said Mike Carroll, the city's deputy managing director for transportation.

  • 12% of roads account for 80% of Philly's traffic deaths and serious injuries.
  • The most dangerous corridors in the city include parts of Roosevelt Boulevard, North Broad Street and Hunting Park Avenue, among others.

The latest: The city has logged 91 traffic-related fatalities so far in 2021, city spokeswoman Joy Huertas told Mike in an emailed statement.

  • A cyclist was killed in a hit-and-run along Roosevelt Boulevard in North Philly on Tuesday, according to police.

What they're saying: Randy LoBasso, policy director for Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, said that Kenney's progress on making the city's roads safer is too slow.

  • "We see it in the numbers. The numbers tell the story that you don't want to hear."
2. 🌳 New designs for FDR Park

A rendering of the new welcome center coming to FDR Park. Photo courtesy of WRT Designs

The city has released renderings for the first phase of the $250 million upgrades to South Philadelphia's heavily used FDR Park.

  • Take a look at the new welcome center, which includes a courtyard, office and vendor space, and a huge playground.

Flashback: Philadelphia announced a master plan for FDR Park in 2019 to address design and infrastructure issues, and committed a total of $50 million over five years.

Taylor's thought bubble: My inner child is impressed with the massive swing set. It has 30 swings!

A rendering of the massive swing set coming to FDR park. Photo courtesy of WRT Designs

What's ahead: Crews will break ground on the project next summer, and complete the upgrades the following year.

  • Got ideas for future programming? Submit them to the city here.
3. Higher ed and health care workers' vax mandate extended

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The city delayed its COVID-19 vaccine mandate for health care workers and those at colleges and universities on Wednesday.

What's happening: Hospital and long-term care facility workers, and all higher ed staff and students, must get their first jab by Oct. 15 and be fully vaccinated by Nov. 15, according to Philly's new guidance.

  • All other health care workers must get their first vaccine dose by Oct. 22 — and their second by Nov. 22. They'll also need to be tested twice weekly until they're fully vaccinated.

Flashback: The city originally mandated that these groups be fully vaccinated by Oct. 15.

What they're saying: Cheryl Bettigole, Philly's acting health commissioner, said some health care and higher ed officials were calling for more time.

  • "We've heard, in general, that a little bit more time might be helpful," she said, adding that another delay to the vaccine mandate wasn't expected.

Of note: The mandate won't apply to workers, students or staff with a religious or medical exemption.

  • They instead must submit to regular COVID-19 testing.

🔎 See COVID-related issues where you work or study? Send Taylor and Mike tips. Replies to this email go directly to our inboxes.

4. We tried it: Fishtown's newest hotspot

Photo: Shane Savitsky/Axios

👋 Shane Savitsky here, I'm a deputy managing editor of Axios Local who lives in Philly. I'm also on Instagram enough to score an opening day reservation last night at LMNO, Stephen Starr's new Baja Mexican spot in Fishtown.

LMNO's indoor-outdoor bar. Photo: Shane Savitsky/Axios

First things first, the space cost $5 million to build out, according to the Inquirer — and it shows. The highlight is the indoor-outdoor bar, which is going to get a lot of use before the chill sets in.

  • It's also all about the vibes. Its press kit calls it a "dynamic space" highlighting art exhibits and DJ sets. Music is very important. (I liked the three-song stretch from LCD Soundsystem to Solange to Daniel Bedingfield.)
The chorizo con calamar tostada. (The aguachile verde looked so good that the phone couldn't eat first. Sorry.) Photo: Mary Claire Sullivan for Axios

And the food? So good. Replacing nachos with waffle fries sounds heavy and gross, but ended up far lighter than you'd think.

  • The aguachile verde was the star — light and bright, with the right amount of acid.
  • The drink list was great, too. Build-your-own cocktails and micheladas, Mexican wines by the glass, and a house beer from Neshaminy Creek called El Emeno (say it out loud, you'll get it).
5. How we compare on climate disasters
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Data: Federal Emergency Management Agency; Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios

Pennsylvania is in line with neighboring New Jersey and New York when it comes to weathering climate-related disasters.

Why it matters: Some locations across the nation are safer from climate-related disasters than others, but no region will go untouched, Axios' Ben German reports.

The big picture: The map above shows major disasters declared by Federal Emergency Management Agency over the past two decades. These climate events range from hurricanes and severe storms to wildfires and drought.

Zoom in: Northeast and Southeast Pennsylvania are vulnerable to heavier storms and flooding.

  • Flashback: The remnants of Hurricane Ida devastated parts of our area last month.
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Data: FEMA; Map: Axios Visuals

View larger map of Pennsylvania showing major weather-related disasters by county.

6. Tweet du jour: Sayonara, Sandler sightings (for now)

Screenshot: @AdamSandler/Twitter

After months of working on "Hustle," the first major movie filmed in Philadelphia since the pandemic, Adam Sandler says goodbye to the City of Brotherly Love.

Thanks for spending your Thursday with us! We'll be back here tomorrow.