South Street Bridge (Photo: Dan Chabanov)

In July, the National Association for City Transportation Officials published the third NATCO Bike Share Equity Practitioners paper. The title of the report is Equity Bike Share Means Building Places for People to Ride.

There are several important takeaways from the report.  The first is, support bike share systems with significant buildout of bike lanes networks.  The study found a correlation between increasing bike lane network, ridership, and safety. Data from seven cities showed that when bike lanes increased, so did cycling. While both these factors increased, risk decreased.


Polls done with members of the cities also found that people were more comfortable cycling, both on personal bikes and bike share bikes, if there were bike lanes and protected bike lanes.  


What this means for Philadelphia, is that to increase ridership, the city needs to install more protected bike lanes.


Philadelphia’s ridership has been fluctuating since 2007 and the miles of lanes installed in the city has not been growing as fast as other cities. Our ridership numbers fell last year, while risk rose. To this day Philly has only three protected bike lanes, and all of them were installed earlier this year.

The report also included data that shows that people of color represent a large portion of cyclists but their neighborhoods lack protected bike lanes and have disproportionately more poorly designed streets and dangerous drivers. An study from the League of American Bicyclists found that Black and Hispanic cyclists had a fatality rate 30% and 23% higher than white cyclists, respectively, and similar racial/ethnic safety gaps are found for pedestrians.

Altogether this report shows Philadelphia that it needs to install more protected bike lanes to increase ridership and safety in the city. Also, out of all the cities studied Philadelphia is the only one who’s cycling ridership has decreased. Philly needs to build better bike lanes in more neighborhoods and keep expanding its bike share program if it wants to be considered alongside other major cycling cities.

-Marina Stuart

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