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 email@example.com 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.
One area of concern to address: secure bike storage. How about more secure bike racks than the ones currently being cut through by pipe cutters? How about more bike corrals in front of Center City businesses? How about a bike cage at Suburban Station or other major transportation hubs in the city?
Excellent ideas! Safe and visible bike parking is in high demand and the City, SEPTA, and local businesses should be taking the lead on constructing more.
I know a lot of the focus is on neighborhoods like West Philly and NoLibs,but we need more focus on the poorer neighborhoods.The people in those neighborhoods ride bikes not to save the environment or exercise,but because they can’t afford a car,pay their bills and keep food on the table.They have as much right to safe and accessible biking as everyone else.Please,consider how hard their life’s are and how much easier it would be if they could bike as freely and safely as the wealthier people in the city.
I want to see a commitment to not only more bike lanes but also actual protected lanes. And I’d love to see fixes for those streets where bikers and busses ride in the same lane, because honestly, that’s terrifying. If there’s anything that’s going to dissuade people considering biking from doing so, it’s the idea of a huge bus sharing your lane. On the other hand, protected bike lanes are insanely productive in getting people on their bikes and moving around town.
Also, I’d like to echo Joshua’s sentiments about more secure parking. In Boston, several important rail stations (Amtrak’s South Station, MBTA’s Alewife station) have modern, secure bike cages that unlock with taps of a transit card (I believe). We should absolutely have those here, especially considering SEPTA’s rolling out a tap card transit system.
The transportation centers need bike lockers. Commuters should be able to protect their bikes from rain, snow and theft. NJ Transit has this available. Why not SEPTA and Amtrak. Indeed, bike lockers should be part of residential planning aspects when new multi-family housing is proposed.
The current Coalition bike map includes a green banner listing safe riding/etiquette on shared trails. I’d like to see this printed in real banner form and placed on trails all over the city. Anything that would encourage trail users to think about safety is a positive–