Promoting bicycling as a healthy, low-cost, and environmentally-friendly form of transportation and recreation.

Frequently Asked Questions

General
-What do the Bicycle Ambassadors do?
-What are the Bicycle Laws for Philadelphia and Pennsylvania?
-What does 'A Bike is a Legal Vehicle' mean?
Getting Around
-The law says that it is illegal to ride on the sidewalk? Why?
-Is it true that you're allowed to ride in the center of the street? Isn't that dangerous?
-How do I pick a safe route through the city?
-Is there a bike map for Philadelphia?
-Can I take my bike on public transit?
-I want to get involved in recreational riding.  Where can I find a group or club to join?
Buying a Bike
-I want to buy a new bike: how do I know what type and size of bike I need?
-Where can I buy a good used bike?
Locking, Crashes, and Other Questions
-What are those orange tags I've seen on rusty bikes around Center City?
-How do I lock my bike?
-What do I do if I get into a crash?
-Where can I get one of those ‘I Bike PHL' shirts I see everyone wearing?
-What is the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia?

What do the Bicycle Ambassadors do?
The Bicycle Ambassadors are a team of adult safety educators working to make bicycling better in the City of Philadelphia. The Ambassadors teach classes about urban riding and set up tables at community events. We take requests for events and classes. For more on our types of outreach, and to request an Ambassador at your event, click here.

What are the Bicycle Laws for Philadelphia and Pennsylvania?
The Regulations for bicycles in Philadelphia are a bit more strict than the laws of the State.  Make sure you know the Pennsylvania laws and Philadelphia regulations.  Remember, a bicycle is a legal vehicle and has all the rights and duties associated with this privilege. Click here for amended sections in the Philadelphia Bicycle Regulations and Penalties Chapter 12-800.

What does "A Bike is a Legal Vehicle" mean?
This means that bicycles legally have all the same privileges, and responsibilities, as cars and other vehicles.

The law says that it is illegal to ride on the sidewalk? Why?
Yes, if you are 12 years or older, in the City of Philadelphia it is illegal to ride on the sidewalk. But in addition to being illegal, sidewalk riding can be more dangerous than riding in the streets! Statistically, bicycle crashes with injury are almost twice as likely on the sidewalk. It annoys pedestrians, and can be much more stressful than riding safely in the street.

Is it true that you're allowed to ride in the center of the street? Isn't that dangerous?
The general rule for riding in the streets is ‘Ride as far to the right as practicable for your own safety'. Often, taking enough space in the road for your own safety means 'taking the lane', or riding in the middle like a car. Bicycles are legal vehicles, and therefore are legally allowed to ride in the middle of the road. If you feel like you're holding people up, pull aside at a stop sign and let the line of cars pass you. 

Do you have any advice for picking a safe route through the city?
Picking a good route can make your ride safer, less stressful, and faster too. Pick the most comfortable, not the fastest, route- you can build up to scarier routes over time. More tips on picking a route. To access an online Philadelphia Bicycle Map, or get one for yourself, read on below.

Is there a bike map for Philadelphia to help me find routes, trails, etc.? 
The Bicycle Coalition maintains a regional bike map available on the Coalition website in a digital format. Cartographer Steve Spindler also maintains an interactive regional bike map at PhillyMap.com. Join the Bicycle Coalition and receive one as a gift.

Through Get Healthy Philly funds, the City of Philadelphia released a 2012 Philadelphia Bicycle Map that you can access digitally here or pick one up at your local bike shop or Ambassador event. 

There are many great local multi-use trails such as the Schuylkill River Trail, Forbidden Drive (aka: Wissahickon Park), the Pennypack Trail, and the Perkiomen Trail.  Click on each of the links above for additional information.

Plan a trip on 250 miles of existing trail, find out about 50 miles that are moving towards completion and learn how you can help connect the full 750 miles of The Circuit.

I want to get involved in recreational riding.  Where can I find a group or club to join?
There are many great local and regional bike clubs.  Philadelphia is also home to some racing clubs as well.  Take a look at this list and research what club suits your needs best.

Can I take my bike on public transit? 
During off-peak hours bikes are allowed on Regional Rail, Broad/Market-Frankford lines, and the Norristown High Speed line. They are allowed on SEPTA buses at all times. Click here for a complete listing of regional organizations and their bike policies. Learn how to load your bike on a bus with our step-by-step video

I want to buy a new bike: how do I know what type and size of bike I need?
The best way to figure out exactly what you want and need is to consult the professionals.  A local bike shop will ask you all the right questions and size you to a bike perfectly suited for your needs. Before you go into the shop, it's helpful to think about the primary activities for which you would like to use the bike (ie: commuting, racing, leisure trail riding). Take a look at our list of local shops that offer BCGP membership discounts.

Where can I buy a good used bike?
There are many options for buying a used bike but the most important detail is to find a bike that fits you.  It is easy to buy a cheap bike on Craigslist or at a garage sale, but make sure you take it for a test ride before taking it home. An ill-fitted bike leads to the need to buy another bike.  Firehouse Bicycles and Via Bicycle are two great Philadelphia shops specializing in used bikes! If you find a used bike that has some problems, Neighborhood Bike Works will help you fix it up during their open workshop hours!

I'm worried about my bike getting stolen. How do I lock my bike?
There are a number of things to keep in mind when locking your bike: use a strong U-Lock, in conjunction with a cable or chain if you have quick-release tires; Lock your bike to a fixed object (make sure sign posts are attached to the ground), which cannot be broken or cut (such as a chain link fence); lock your bike in as well-lit and highly trafficked an area as possible. Check out Safe Routes Philly bike safety review (minute 1:33 goes over proper locking technique). 

What do I do if I get into a crash?
The Bicycle Coalition maintains a "What to do if you get into a crash" website. You can also post your incident on our Crash-Reporter Map, which will send a report to the appropriate police precinct. Read up on personal injury information and navigating the insurance injury in the event of a collision in the "What to do if you are in a bicycle collision in Pennsylvania" zine.

Where can I get one of those ‘I Bike PHL' shirts I see everyone wearing?
‘I Bike PHL' T-shirts were originally made as part of our cycling pledge, but have exploded in popularity. You can buy them from our office, from the Ambassadors, or at EMS in West Philadelphia.

What is the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia?
Making bicycling better through advocacy and education by promoting biking as a healthy, low-cost, and environmentally-friendly form of transportation and recreation. Founded in 1972, we are a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that serves the Pennsylvania counties of Montgomery, Delaware, Chester, Bucks and Philadelphia as well as South Jersey and the state of Delaware.  

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