How Philly Can Maintain #1 Ranking for Bike Commuting

Despite lagging behind in biking amenities, Philadelphia was recently revealed to have the highest percentage of bike commuters among the largest U.S. cities. If the City steps up its bike infrastructure, could we become a contender for best bicycling City worldwide? The key word is “if.”


The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia (BCGP) released an impressively comprehensive study of Philadelphia’s biking infrastructure and its influence on attracting new riders and on existing riders’ behavior.


The information is particularly apt as Philadelphia plans to roll out its first bike share program, which the Solo Blog detailed a while back. With a bike share comes many cyclists biking in the city for the first time, and as the BCGP report reveals, proper cyclist amenities help produce proper cycling behavior.


What are proper cyclist amenities and behavior, you might ask? As for amenities, bike lanesare good, buffered bike lanes are better, protected bike lanes are best, and “sharrows” (share-the-road painted road markings) don’t cut it.


Philly’s quarter-mile of protected bike lane (left) on Delaware Avenue, and a bike “sharrow” (right) in Fishtown


Proper bicyclist behavior includes biking with the flow of traffic, not biking on the sidewalk, and wearing a helmet.


Unfortunately, Philadelphia does not yet have enough bicycle amenities to have cyclists on their best behavior all the time.


Yet despite falling behind some major cities in bike lane installation, protected bike lanes in particular, Philadelphia still has the highest percentage of bike commuters. Which means if the City installs more bike infrastructure, it is likely to retain and even expand upon that #1 ranking. This is because with bike infrastructure, if you build it, new cyclists will come–studies have shown as much.


Let’s keep them coming, then! This is an opportunity for Philadelphia to continue to distinguish itself among U.S. cities. Perhaps most importantly, biking in Philly is fun! Here’s to making it even more so, and encouraging more people to join in that fun.


Opening image courtesy of bicyclecoalition.org.

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