As city considers new bike lanes, report says Phila. leads big cities in bike commuting

Posted: May 10, 2011

So many people are biking to work that Philadelphia has twice as many two-wheeled commuters as any other large city, according to a report released Monday by the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia.

The report came a day before a scheduled public meeting on the creation of dedicated bike lanes on 10th and 13th Streets.

Those north-south lanes, which would connect South Street to Spring Garden Street, would complement the dedicated east-west lanes on Pine and Spruce Streets.

The timing of the report was coincidental to the city's plans to pilot new bike lanes, said Sarah Clark Stuart, the nonprofit coalition's campaign director.

Nonetheless, she said, the data shows the city "needs more and better bike lanes."

"As soon as Spruce and Pine were put in, a lot of people were asking, 'Where's the north-south lanes,' " Stuart said.

Dedicated bike lanes are created by taking two-lane, one-way streets, and making one lane for bikes only. Opponents have argued that bike lanes create traffic congestion.

The city tested bike lanes on Spruce and Pine and made them permanent when they proved to be popular and had little adverse effect on traffic.

The north-south lanes on 10th and 13th will be piloted as well, mostly likely starting in late June. The public meeting on the bike lanes is scheduled for Tuesday night from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Thomas Jefferson University's Alumni Hall, 1000 Locust St.

The coalition's report, written using census data and an internal "bicycle count," showed that bicycle commuting increased more than 150 percent from 2000 to 2009.

Overall, slightly more than 2 percent of Philadelphians bike to work - double the next large city, Chicago - and several city neighborhoods match the country's leafy college towns and noted hipster enclaves for bicycle commuting.

Out of 2,100 census neighborhoods, Center City and South Philadelphia rank in the top 25, with both neighborhoods having more than 5 percent of their population getting to work on two wheels.

Those neighborhoods share the top 25 with Berkeley, Calif., and Cambridge, Mass., and neighborhoods in Portland, Ore., and Minneapolis.


Contact staff writer Troy Graham at 215-854-2730 or tgraham@phillynews.com.

 

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