by Sue Ann Rybak
Wyndmoor resident Robert Pugh was running on Forbidden Drive around 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 23, when he saw four cars going 30 miles per hour between Northwestern Avenue and West Bells Mill Road.
“I tried to stop them, but the first two just accelerated past me,” he said. “The next two drivers stopped their vehicles, but pointed to their phones, explaining that some map app told them Forbidden Drive is an OK play to drive.”
Cars, as the name of the Fairmount Park pathway suggests, are not allowed on the dirt and gravel trail.
Pugh, who has used the trail for almost 40 years, said he was certain local road closures had sent drivers down the restricted trail.
“With multiple road closures in Whitemarsh Township, drivers are regularly using Forbidden Drive in Fairmount Park to cut through from Northwestern Avenue to West Bells Mill Road.”
Pugh said he reached out to Mayor Kenney’s Office, Philadelphia Parks and Recreation and the Chestnut Hill Local in an effort to avert a tragedy.
Ruffian Tittman, deputy director for the Friends of the Wissahickon, told the Local the organization was aware of the problem and had notified Parks and Recreation. She said the organization believes the increase in construction work around the area and the increase in drivers’ use of online navigation apps are causing motor vehicles to drive on the trail.
Maita Soukup, a spokesperson for Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, said in an email that the safety of park visitors is the department’s top priority.
“Following reports of unauthorized vehicles on the Forbidden Drive trail, our rangers have placed temporary barriers to block car traffic from entering the trail,” she said. “Rangers will continue monitoring the portion of the trail in question. We ask anyone who sees unauthorized vehicles on the trail to notify Parks & Recreation at ParksandRecreation@phila.gov or 215685-0144.”
Sue Ann Rybak can be reached at email@example.com or 215-248-8804.