The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia conducts bike counts every year, utilizing volunteers to figure out how many bicyclists per hour are using individual lanes throughout the city, and what effect infrastructure has on where bicyclists travel.
In 2017, the U.S. Census found that 2.2 percent of Philadelphians ride bicycles as their means of transportation, which means Philadelphia continues to be the most-biked city in the United States with more than 1 million residents. Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and San Diego round out the top five.
Our own bike counts involve Bicycle Coalition staff members and volunteers standing at street corners throughout the city, and counting the number of cyclists who go by. We make note of which way the person is riding, the perceived gender of the person, whether the person was wearing a helmet, and whether the person was on an Indego bike.
Here’s a quick snapshot of what the numbers tell us:
As usual, bike counts suggest that cyclists go where the infrastructure is. On average, our counts found 41 bikes per hour at intersections where there is no infrastructure, 60 bikes per hour on streets with sharrows, 69 bikes per hour on streets where there is a standard bike lane, and 148 bikes per hour where there is a buffered bike lane, or better.
Bridge traffic has always been a good indicator of how bicyclists are traveling around the city—they’re among the first places we began counting in the early 2000s.
Our 2017 counts found that half of all Schuylkill River traffic was over the South Street Bridge—which is pretty amazing if you think about it; we count cyclists over five Schuylkill River bridges. The second-most number of bicyclists use the Walnut Street Bridge, then the Spring Garden and Chestnut Street Bridges.
The South Street Bridge, of course, has a high-quality bike lane on either side, which is semi-protected for a short portion before the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia parking garage. Better infrastructure makes a difference—and Philadelphia’s elected officials intentionally making it harder to install better infrastructure has a direct effect on how many people are bicycling, and how safe those cyclists are.
The full 2017 bike count report is pretty great. Give it a read here.