Philadelphians love to bike, and the numbers prove it. A higher percentage of people, 2.3 percent, commute by bicycle in Philadelphia than in any other big city in the United States.
Bicycling grew 260 percent in Philly between 2005 and 2013, and bicyclists have, with the installation of new lanes and repaved streets, begun behaving better: More helmets are worn, there’s been less cycling on sidewalks and fewer cyclists are going the wrong way down one-way streets.
Earlier this month, the Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk was unveiled, providing a new route for both pedestrians and cyclists to get from the Art Museum to the South Street Bridge without having to travel on city streets. Philadelphia’s Bike Share program will roll out in Spring 2015.
But in spite of the terrific progress made for bicyclists and pedestrians, there are important challenges both currently and on the horizon that remain to be tackled.
City funding woes have created a backlog of more than 900 miles of streets waiting to be paved, up from 600 miles just five years ago. The Streets Department should be paving 130 miles of streets per year; but this year, Philadelphia has only been able to repave less than 25 miles, although that number is expected to rise in 2015.
There’s no doubt Philadelphia has been ahead of the curve when it’s come to installing bicycle lanes. The city has over 400 miles of on-street bicycle lanes and began laying down the paint well before most cities. However, in recent years, as bicycling has grown throughout the country, several cities have surpassed Philadelphia in terms of installing more protective lanes.
These are among some of the transportation infrastructure challenges that face the next mayor.
The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia has released a draft platform looking at these issues and has put together ten recommendations for the next mayor to commit to rework the city’s streets, reverse the trend of pedestrian deaths and create a calmer, safer culture of travel in Philadelphia. A draft of that platform, and action steps for better mobility in Philadelphia, is available here.
Among the recommendations:
- Bring Philadelphia’s streets and sidewalks into a state of good repair.
- Adopt a Vision Zero policy to reduce traffic crashes.
- Connect the on-street bikeway network.
- Build 25 miles of trails that are part of the Circuit.
- Improve the walkability of streets and sidewalks.
- Prioritize transportation and infrastructure policy
- Enhance accessibility to public transit.
- Ensure access to Philadelphia Bike Share
- Enliven Philadelphia’s streets.
- Manage on-street parking for efficient and effective use.
We encourage you to read the Better Mobility 2015 draft and provide feedback by either sending us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by attending an upcoming listening session, scheduled for November 10th at 6pm at the Friends Center on 15th and Cherry. This platform will lay the groundwork for BCGP’s interactions with 2015 candidates for Mayor and City Council.