Like us, you’ve probably been hearing a lot about transportation issues during the Papal Visit in late September. From the two mile walks to SEPTA’s special regional rail ticket meltdown. But until very recently, there was no word as to how bicycles would fit into the transportation picture. Will Indego stations be added? Or will the service shut down? Will the Schuylkill River Trail remain open? Will bike corrals be added at the perimeter of the event areas?
We’ve received a lot of questions and suggestions. As of now, officials are tight-lipped about the details. So, we’ve created a Google Map that, as details become available will show where you can and cannot ride and park your bike. Our current version shows the area’s bike lanes, bike parking and Circuit trails.
What we do know is that mass transit will not be operating within the gray area of the map. Bikes will be permitted outside any fenced off areas. You won’t be able to take your bike on any train so SEPTA/NJT buses with bike racks are your best bet (no special tickets required). The Ben Franklin Bridge will be closed to motor vehicle traffic, the walkways will be open and there is a chance that DRPA will open all or part of the roadway to bicycles and pedestrians.
The defensive posture that Philadelphia is taking towards the Pope’s visit is in sharp contrast to Rome’s response to the Vatican’s Jubilee of 2016. According to the website Cityscope Rome is considering opening an unused rail line, increasing bus service and most interesting to us, a 27-mile ringed bikeway around the City known as GRAB (Grande Raccordo Anulare Della Bici – Great Ring Road of the Bicycle) that will take bicycle users right to St. Peter’s Square.
But the near total motor vehicle shutdown provides an amazing, once in decade opportunity for Philadelphia to host its first open streets event. Essentially the question is whether the City can get out of the doomsday funk and plan to show off the best of our town.
As we learn more, we’ll continue updating this blog and our website with information about the Papal weekend.