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8 Ways Philly Can Improve Biking (even further!): The Biking Chronicles
Biking

8 Ways Philly Can Improve Biking (even further!): The Biking Chronicles

Next edition of the hot new column: The Biking Chronicles: Ranking Our City  

I have been a bicyclist in exactly three cities in my adult life: Philadelphia, Portland, OR, and Oxford, UK. Since Oxford is outside of the country and its inhabitants drive on the other side of the road (even after a year of living there, still led to my own death-defying riding mistakes), we’ll ignore that one.

Portland prides itself on being notoriously bike-friendly (for good reason: they even have bike parking in their airport…whaaaa?). But that doesn’t mean that Philly’s not up there. I’d even say that Philly might be giving other more well-known biking cities a run for their money. (And why wouldn’t we be awesome? It’s true that suddenly everyone kind of loves us.)

Philadelphia Business Journal ranked us 10th, according to a study by BetterDoctor. This study examined number of commuters, fatalities, and infrastructure and issued us an overall biking score of 57%. A 2009-2013 US Census survey found that of the top 10 major cities, Philadelphia ranks 2nd in the percentage of its population who commute to work, at 2%, which is just behind Washington D.C. at 3.5%. We also have more than 435 miles of bike lanes and a relatively flat, (mostly) grid-like street plan. We have lots of green spaces, trails, and interesting (if not a bit unattainable) places to park your bike.

All of this sounds lovely. With the new bike share program, we’re surely increasing our scores and proving Stu Bykofsky wrong. But like any good city seeking to progress into the future, we need to work on a few things. Conveniently for you, I made a list of ‘em.

8 Ways Philly Can Improve Biking (even further):

  1. How safe is it to have bike lanes that share space with SEPTA buses?
  2. When will cars be enforced to not use bike lanes as their own personal parking or idle space? (I’m looking at you, Spruce Street.)
  3. Will there ever be bike lanes with barriers to prevent cars from sneaking in, cutting us off, or just plain forgetting that we’re there?
  4. Can we get better signage reminding cars and pedestrians that we exist?
  5. Will the city eventually remove its unused trolley tracks that offer at a minimum painful road rash when a tire gets stuck in them?
  6. Will we get bike lanes on the busier sections of the city, such as downtown on Market, JFK, Chestnut, and Walnut?
  7. Will there ever be paved sections along the cobblestone roads we so love to keep around?
  8. Parking: as more of us ride, our city needs to keep up with the need, especially with of areas where the only place to lock a bike is a single street sign. Have you ever tried locking more than one bike to a street sign? It. Sucks. Plus, it’s also a bit absurd considering we still have horse hitching posts.

But, I don’t want to be a greedy or complain-y biker in this city, because even in my few years of living here, we’ve come a long way. Between Indego, increased lanes under Mayor Nutter, and a whole lot of friendly bike shops littering the city, we have a lot to celebrate. But as more bikes hit the road, it’s important to make sharing the road safer, easier and better for all of us.

And, of course, if we celebrate nothing else, we can always be thankful for this.

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Alisha Ebling is a writer, biker, vegan food consumer, and lover of all things book-related. You can find more of her writing on her website, or follow her @alishakathryn. View all posts by Alisha Ebling

3 thoughts on “8 Ways Philly Can Improve Biking (even further!): The Biking Chronicles

  1. Can they fix some of the SCARY pot holes on the Spruce and Pine bike lanes? Those are so highly traveled.
    I love running and I know it’s a pain running on crowded streets, but running the wrong way in a bike lane isn’t the answer. I don’t know how the City can fix this. Maybe some outreach during the Marathon?
    ‘Nuff complaining for today.

  2. I agree with you – there are potholes all over – and plus, the repaving on 7th street is HELLACIOUS as we wait for them to fix it. Cars also don’t seem very patient with that.

    Re: running in biking lanes – IT’S SO DANGEROUS. And a pet peeve of mine…

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