Editor’s note: SEPTA and TWU Local 234 have reached an agreement! That means there will be no strike in 2021. Nevertheless, the tips in this blog post are universal for anyone looking to get back on their bicycle!
TWU Local 234, the union which represents more than 5,000 SEPTA workers, has authorized a strike if they can’t come to an agreement with the Authority by midnight on Halloween.
We hope a deal can be reached that is fair to SEPTA’s workers. SEPTA is a crucial piece of the region’s infrastructure and without bus and train operators taking folks to and from their destinations, we would not be the bustling metropolis we are today.
Our coalition partners Transit Forward Philadelphia stands with these workers and supports their position. “Throughout the pandemic, SEPTA workers have been essential, taking on high risks to continue providing public transport,” they noted in a recent blog post. “Without them, other essential workers would have been unable to get to work, and we would have faced a shortage in healthcare, food service, and emergency response.”
But if there’s no deal come Monday morning, it’ll be time to “Bike the strike.” We at the Bicycle Coalition are here to show you how to do it.
First off, if you’re someone who’s new to riding, or haven’t used your bicycle in a while, there are some basics you want to check on before hopping on the saddle.
“The first thing you need to do if you haven’t ridden your bike in a while is to check that stuff you need to make the bike move,” Bicycle Coalition Youth Cycling athlete Noah Faust told me earlier this year, in a story for Grid Magazine. “And if there’s something you don’t know how to fix on your own, take it to a bike shop.”
That means knowing your ABCs: Air, Brakes, Chain. You don’t want to jump on a bicycle if the tires aren’t full of air, if the brakes don’t work, or if the chain is either loose or broken.
Like Faust says, if you know how to fix this stuff, great; if not, make an appointment with your local bike shop as soon as possible.
If you don’t have a bike but want to ride one, check out our last “Bike the strike” map, which provides a list of working rail stations (Regional Rail and PATCO), bike shops, Indego bike share stations, and bike infrastructure.
Next, if you’re new to biking and you’ve got a commute ahead of you, find a neighbor or local friend (or lots of them!) you can ride with.
As any bicycle commuter can tell you, there isn’t just one way to ride to and from a destination — there are thousands of ways to get there and you can be assured someone who’s commuted for a long time has tried most of them.
A riding partner or group can help you with your bearings and get you on a path of least resistance to wherever you need to go. In many cases, folks who ride every day know the quickest, quietest, safest way to bike infrastructure, or may best understand which streets see the least amount of motor vehicle traffic. These of sorts tips are invaluable to a new cyclist.
If you don’t know anyone nearby you can ride with, check out our bike maps page and set a route on your own. Our regional map, available here, separates bicycle infrastructure by standard bike lanes, protected bike lanes, and regional Circuit Trails. If you’re able to create a route of mostly trails and protected bike lanes, all the better.
We also have a library of rides throughout the region for Coalition members via our Ride with GPS benefit — so if you’re not a member and want access to these rides, click here.
Our Ride with GPS library includes many regional recreational rides, but we’ve recently updated it to include commutes from numerous Philadelphia neighborhoods in order to provide the least stressful commute possible.
If you have a smart phone, Google Maps can provide you with turn-by-turn directions to your destination — just set your travel mode to bicycle. While Google Maps can be decent, it doesn’t necessarily provide the easiest ride, and we recommend it only after other options are tried.
WHYY wrote about what some bike shops are doing to help new commuters — benefits include discounts at some shops already, while some others are waiting to see what happens with the negotiations.
Bicycle Coalition members already get discounts at select bike shops around the region. So, if you’re a member, check out this map and take your bike in to get looked at.
Lastly, this message is not just for SEPTA riders.
If a strike happens, and it’s anything like previous strikes, you’re not going to want to be in a car. Believe me. SEPTA is so important to our region that driving to and from your destination during the strike will definitely result in your sitting in gridlock, wondering why you didn’t just ride your bicycle or scooter.
If you are an everyday car commuter, you should try out a bike during the potential strike, too. Because as bad as city gridlock is on a regular basis, it’s going to be that much worse during the strike.