West Philadelphian Kate Otte with her bicycle.

West Philadelphian Kate Otte with her bicycle.

“I love that biking in the city is almost always faster than driving, taking a cab or public transportation,” says Kate Otte, a Philadelphian by way of Cincinnati. The 25-year-old West Philadelphia resident and member of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia recently spoke with this blog about bicycling, her hopes for Philadelphia’s cycling community and bike share.

This is the first member-oriented post of our “Member Drive” week, in which we are asking area cyclists and people who want a better Philadelphia region to join thousands of people all over the region and become members of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia. If you’re interested, you can pledge your support with a $35 donation here. And stay tuned as we speak to more members throughout the week.

How long have you been a bicyclist?

About 4 years.

What got you into riding?

I started getting into biking in college. I was initially drawn to it because it’s a sustainable, healthy and cost-effective way to get around. I always wanted to ride more but the hills in Cincinnati were a real deterrent (there are Manayunk-sized hills everywhere). After moving to Philadelphia, I was excited to finally be in a city that was flat, compact and bike-friendly.

What about the Bicycle Coalition’s message resonates with you?

I like that the coalition is focused on making the city safe and accessible for anyone who wants to bike. There are still a lot of people who are scared to ride in the city. I think BCGP and MOTU have done a great job over the past few years in making significant upgrades to bicycle infrastructure, thinking big and planning ahead, but there’s still a long way to go. Philadelphia has the potential to be a city where bicycle commuters, cycling seniors, moms with kiddie cargo bikes, and first-time riders can all feel safe on the road, and it’s great to see the city work towards that.

What’s your favorite thing about riding in the Greater Philadelphia region?

I love that biking in the city is almost always faster than driving, taking a cab or public transportation. Plus you actually get to enjoy the city—you have time to notice new businesses that have opened, check out a street festival you didn’t know was happening, explore the neighborhood and soak up some sun.

What sort of goals do you have for bike riding over the next 5-10 years?

I have high hopes for the bike share. I see two main benefits: more people on bikes, using bike lanes and proving how we need more of them; and making people better drivers around cyclists. Whether this happens because they’ve tried riding a bike around the city and can now understand common bicyclist behavior, or because they get used to sharing the road, it’s going to make the streets safer for everyone. I’m also hoping that the city continues to expand its bike lane network, especially to North and South Philadelphia.

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