Advocates’ Report Highlights Philly as Nation’s Top Bike Commuting City

By Carolyn S on May 13, 2011

imageA new report published by the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia proves the City of Brotherly Love has fallen head over heels for bicycling in recent years. Mode Shift: Philadelphia’s Two-Wheeled Revolution in Progress reveals Philly has, per capita, twice as many bike commuters as any other large U.S. city.

The growth in bicycle commuting has been phenomenal, rising 151 percent between 2000 and 2009 and rivaling nation-leading Portland in certain sections of the city. According to the report: “Philadelphia’s city-wide bicycle mode share for 2009 was 2.16 percent. Philadelphia’s share of female cyclists is also very high, an indicator often used to test how bicycle-friendly a city is. In Center City and South Philly, bike commuting rates are among the highest anywhere in the country, and rank among the Top 25 of 2,100 census neighborhoods. Only Portland, Minneapolis and San Francisco have two or more neighborhoods in the Top 25.”

The comprehensive report, which draws on BCGP’s own bicycle count data, also highlights the impact of bicycle facilities on rider behavior and gender mode share. For instance, almost twice as many bicyclists ride on streets with a bike lane and the percentage of women cycling jumps from 22 percent on streets with no bike lane to 37 percent on streets with a bike lane. The report found that dedicated infrastructure also improved rider behavior: “Sidewalk riding drops from 19.8 percent on streets with no bike lane to 8.6 percent on streets with a bike lane to 2.4 percent on streets with a buffered bike lane.”

Clearly Philly is on the right track, but, as the BCGP points out, the pace and prevalence of bicycle facilities pales in comparison to other big cities, like New York City and Minneapolis. “The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia recommends that Philadelphia pick up the pace to improve its bicycle infrastructure, launch a high profile public education and encouragement campaign, and make enforcement a higher priority,” the report concludes.

Click here to download and read Mode Shift.

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