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Open Streets Philly wants to go car-free

Inspired by the pope's visit, "Open Streets Philly" wants to close portions of vehicular traffic for three weekends next summer
Still image from Cory J. Popp's "Philly Without Cars"Cory J Popp

Inspired by the massive street closures during the papal visit, some Philly residents are saying, "Let's do it again."

A new Facebook group called "Open Streets Philly" started Monday night had more than 2,000 members by Tuesday morning.

"I have a one-year-old daughter," said Jake Liefer, one of the organizers. "This was the first time I got to take her on a bike ride."

RELATED: Road closures for papal visit announced

The group doesn't envision closing all of Center City, and the interstates along with it. A smaller section would suffice. They hope to do it for three weekends in the summer.

The "Open Streets" idea is something of a movement in urban planning circles, and the idea isn't as far-fetched as it sounds.

Most are modeled on "Ciclovia" in Bogota, Columbia, which closes streets to car traffic every Sunday.Car-centricLos Angeles plans to close about six miles of streets in October.

Democratic Mayoral Nominee Jim Kenney has also expressed support for the idea, but his spokeswoman, Lauren Hitt said he's still looking for feedback from residents and businesses about the impact.

RELATED: Nutter declares success as papal visit cleanup continues

Lieferacknowledged concerns that some businesses suffered during the papal visit but he said some of the downturn stemmed from factors that went well beyond closed streets -- such as stepped up security.

The folks behind Open Streets Philly aren't the only ones to notice the benefits of closed streets. Filmmaker Cory J Popp -- known for his work docuentingthe urban environment in Philadelphia -- produced a neat little video called "Philly Without Cars."

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