Women Bike PHL

Long-time cyclist and art advocate
Ginger Osborne

Ginger Osborne is the office manager of The Association for Public Art, a nonprofit organization dedicated to integrating public art and urban planning. Ginger has been commuting by bicycle for decades within Philadelphia.

Ginger and her hybrid bicycle. Photo credit: Caitlin Martin

Ginger and her hybrid bicycle. Photo credit: Caitlin Martin

When did you start riding in the city?

1977.

What kind of bike?

A three-speed commuter.

What do you ride now?

A twenty-one speed hybrid.

Did you know how to ride before riding in the city?

I learned how to ride growing up. But as you know, the most important thing to a teenager is fitting in, and biking was not cool.

Why did you start riding in the city?

I lived at 13th and Walnut, so I was right in the middle of Center City. I wanted an alternative from riding the bus. Philadelphia was very different back then.

How was biking in Philadelphia back in the 70s?

Philadelphia was dangerous. I was constantly harassed and getting in fights with drivers. Cars did not believe that bicycles belonged on the road, not even the cops. My first accident was being doored. The woman was beside herself. I was fine besides whiplash. But people didn’t think to look in their side-view mirrors for bicyclists back then.

How has the city improved over the years? What did you notice?

The punk bicyclist movement in the 80s helped bicyclist numbers grow. In the early 2000’s, bicycle cops came on the scene and were taken seriously, which helped some people respect bicyclists. And of course, the bike lanes were a great improvement! I’m still amazed by them!

How else do you think the city can improve?

I feel greedy asking for more, after all the recent bicycle lanes and sharrows, but the next step would be protected bike lanes. That would bring Philadelphia to the next level.

You’ve been bicycling for so many years; do you happen to own a car?

Nope, my bike is my Cadillac!

Do you bicycle year-round and all weather?

I used to. But I don’t ride in the rain or snow anymore. As you get older, you stop doing things that cause more stress than necessary.

What’s your advice for someone scared to ride in the city?

Well, here is some advice for people not riding on a bike; don’t yell at people on bikes! We are completely focused on avoiding pedestrians.

For someone scared to ride in the city, I say try to do a “take your time” group ride with a friend. I think having support from someone you know and learning from others is beneficial to feeling comfortable.

I don’t typically participate in group rides, but I tried to get a friend who is hesitant to bike in the city to do one with me. She didn’t do it; some people are going to be scared no matter what.\

Interview by Claudia Setubal

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