May is National Bike Month and Philly cyclists have reasons to celebrate. Our City has made biking safer and more accessible thanks to the lobbying efforts of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia and Mayor Jim Kenney. We applaud these efforts because biking is good for the environment, your health, and your wallet. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cyclist, we want to give you the tools and tips to stay safe, enjoy the ride, and pedal it out.
Take a class
Indego, Philly’s Bike Share Program, offers a free, ten-minute Learn to Ride video as well as a 90-minute Zoom course on the rules of the road, riding safely in traffic, making sure your helmet fits, planning your route, and more. This class is relevant to bicyclists of all skill levels but is most important for beginners.
The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia has monthly Learn to Ride classes for anyone over 18, April through October. Whatever your experience or age this class is a positive and encouraging setting to start building your bike riding skills. Don’t have a bike? No problem. You can rent a bike from Wheel Fun, on Boat House Row where classes start. Classes start with learning how to balance and practicing in the Azalea Garden behind the Art Museum before venturing onto the bike path along Kelly Drive. Private lessons are available.
Renting or Buying?
If you are not ready to purchase a bike, take advantage of Indego’s bike-share program, featuring hundreds of bright blue rental bicycles and white electric- assist bikes at over 140 stations around the City, accessible 24/7. You can check out a bike using a mobile app. Indego is celebrating Bike Month with reduced
fees. Check it out at www.rideindego.com/buy-a-pass/#/
Want your own wheels? Bicycle Therapy at 2211 South is a full-service independent bicycle shop. With over 28 years of experience, the shop’s friendly and knowledgeable staff will help you find a bike that matches your level of experience and budget.
Transport Cycles, located at Building Bok in South Philly and in South Kensington at 1315 N. Howard St, sells bikes for the serious aficionado, ranging in price from $475 to $1,200. Shop their online store and stop in for a free test ride.
Feeling less Lance Armstrong and more in the market for a Schwinn? Pick up your easy rider by browsing the used bikes at Liberty Bicycles or on Facebook Marketplace.
Over 300 miles of dedicated circuit trails for cyclists, linking Philadelphia with scenic routes to Valley Forge, Bucks County and Pennsylvania Dutch Country are in existence thanks to the efforts of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia and the William Penn Foundation. When completed, the Circuit Trails will include over 800 miles connecting urban, suburban and rural communities.
One of the most accessible routes is the 120 mile Schuylkill River Trail winding from the City to Manayunk and beyond. Meanwhile, West River Drive will continue to be a cyclist’s paradise, devoid of cars, until Labor Day 2021 when it will revert to its former schedule of being closed to traffic only on Saturdays and Sundays.
The best way to experience these trails is to participate in rides sponsored by the Philadelphia Bicycle Club. Traveling with other cyclists promotes safety, as well as deepening your knowledge of biking and expanding your social horizons. Besides weekly group rides, starting from the Art Museum, the Bike Club offers longer monthly rides with opportunities to explore intriguing destinations.
On May 21 st, the Bike club hosts a 3-day tour of the Susquehanna Valley, cycling through the countryside and quaint towns. Experience the Lebanon Valley Rail Train on June 12th and on August 7th the annual Chocolate Tour pedals through Amish country to benefit the treatment of pediatric cancer at CHOP and the Hershey Medical Center. Want to escape the heat? Consider the August 29 Brandywine Tour through horse farm country in Chester County. For all Philadelphia Bike Club events, visit their event calendar.
Safer Streets/Safer Bikes
When Mayor Kenney ran for office, he pledged to create 40 miles of protected bike lanes by 2026. As a result, Philly has its first raised bike lane, over six feet wide, with a concrete buffer on North American Street. Plans are also underway to make Washington Street in South Philly safer for cyclists by reducing the five-lane road to three lanes with a protected bike lane.
To protect your bike from theft, you need more than a good lock. Record your bicycle’s serial number and take photos of yourself with your bicycle, so you can prove ownership if it is stolen. Call your police district to see if they offer bicycle registration services. Besides the best lock, you can afford, consider GPS tracking devices for bike owners. Your local bike shop will help you identify the best products to keep your bike safe.
After a year of pandemic isolation, we encourage you to take advantage of Philly’s abundant cycling trails, classes and clubs. Cycling is good for your health and it’s great for our City.