With 426 miles of on-street bike lanes, Philadelphia leads the United States’ big cities with the most bike lanes per square mile, according to a recent article in Triple Pundit.
At 4.3 miles of bike lane per square mile, Philadelphia comes in with more miles of lanes than Mesa (4.2), Albuquerque, Fresno, Tucson, San Jose, New York, San Diego, Phoenix, and Los Angeles.
We’re fifth in terms of total mileage, behind San Jose, Los Angeles, Tucson and San Diego, all of which are out west, where cities are generally more sprawling than those on the east coast.
The mileage noted in this article does not include things like Circuit Trails that go through the city, and sharrows, the latter of which many do not consider bike infrastructure at all.
However, getting to 426 miles means that on two-way streets where there is a bike lane on both sides, each side is counted individually.
While that news is pretty nice for us (we are, after all, the most-biked big city in the country), the article itself is about why U.S. cities are generally falling behind other nations, especially European nations, in terms of bicycle usage.
In Europe, there has been a seismic shift in how people view the act of riding a bicycle. Residents of bike-friendly cities like Copenhagen and Barcelona see a bicycle not only as an instrument for recreation, but also – and crucially, more commonly – as a valid form of transportation. It’s not at all unusual to see businessmen in three-piece suits and women in skirts and ballet flats riding their bikes to work. They arrive looking presentable because they pedal at a reasonable pace and ride bikes designed for comfort rather than racing.
In contrast, most Americans see cycling as a purely recreational activity, a sport taken up by weekend warriors and triathletes looking for a new fitness goal. Even in locations where cycling is common, riders tend to be students, and the image of cycling in these locations is dominated by photos of racing bikes carrying surfboards and backpacks full of sporting gear.
Of course, there are certain things the United States can learn from our European counterparts about bicycle usage. Bikes need to be seen as something other than “toys” by Americans, notes the writer, and one of the first steps toward doing that is adding infrastructure other than standard bike lanes. Many cities have already begun doing this, installing bike lanes either separated by plastic bollards, or physically-protected lanes, which we have yet to see in Philadelphia. We’re confident we’ll see many miles of physically-protected lanes installed under the Kenney Administration.
Philadelphia’s spot as the most-biked big city in the U.S. proves that more bike lanes—and better bike lanes—mean more cyclists. As we wrote earlier this year, Chicago is quickly gaining on us, and it’s mostly because that city’s government has made a commitment to installing protected bike lanes.