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

Philadelphia's Two-Wheeled Revolution

Press Release
May 9, 2011


  Sarah Clark Stuart, Campaign Director   

(p) 215-242-9253, x306 or (m) 215-546-1222

Alex Doty, Executive Director, (m) 215 239-4749


Philadelphia's Two-Wheeled Revolution

MAY 9, 2011.  PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA.  Philadelphia ranks among the most bicycled cities in the country, with twice as many bicycle commuters as any other big city in the United States. But according to a report released today by the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, Philadelphia is not just competitive with big cities. Of 2,100 census population centers, South Philadelphia and Center City rank in the top-25 most bicycled in the country.


Mode Shift: Philadelphia's Two-Wheeled Revolution in Progress kicks off Bike Month by using Bicycle Coalition counts and US Census statistics to map and dissect bicycling in the city and region. By breaking down bicycle commuting rates by neighborhood, the report sheds new light on the high levels of bicycle commuting in Philadelphia's core, where bicycle commuting rates in South Philly and Center City top 5%. The Bicycle Coalition counts also document that bike lanes significantly decrease the nuisance of sidewalk bicycle riding.    


"Philadelphia is one of the most bicycled cities in America," said Alex Doty, Executive Director of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia. "Who needs sun and beaches when cheesesteaks can power folks in South Philly to bicycle at about the same rate as Santa Barbara."


The report also documents that bike lanes lead to better bicycling behavior, and higher-quality bike lanes see the best results.  "Bike lanes are essential to ending the scourge of sidewalk riding," said Research Director John Boyle. "Adding a bike lane cuts sidewalk riding in half. Add a buffered bike lane and it gets even better: the rate of sidewalk riding on Spruce and Pine is eight times lower than on streets with no bike lanes."  


"These results are proof positive that Philadelphia needs more and better bike lanes," said Sarah Clark Stuart, Campaign Director.  "Building a connected bikeway network along important cross city corridors, such as installing buffered bike lanes on 10th and 13th in Center City, is key to making Philadelphia's streets safer for everyone."


The Mayor's Office of Transportation and Utilities will be holding a community meeting to discuss its proposed pilot project creating bike lanes on 10th and 13th streets.  The meeting will be held on Tuesday, May 10th from 6:00 - 7:30 pm at Jefferson University's Alumni Hall (1000 Locust St). 

Mode Shift is available as a  pdf document on the Bicycle Coalition's website.


Mode Shift: Summary of Findings

Over the last decade, significant numbers of Philadelphians have shifted to bicycle commuting and positioned Philadelphia as an excellent big city for biking. By building on these trends, Philadelphia has the opportunity to transform itself into a world-class bicycling city.
  • Philadelphia has, per capita, twice as many bicycle commuters as any other big city in the US.
  • Bicycle commuting increased 151 percent from 2000 to 2009.
  • Bike lanes lead to better bicyclist behavior: bicyclists are more than twice as likely to ride on the sidewalk when there is no bike lane.
  • Streets with bike lanes have more bike traffic.
Of the nation's 10 biggest cities, Philadelphia's bicycle mode share is twice as high as next-best Chicago. Philadelphia's city-wide bicycle mode share (the percentage of commuters who bike to work) 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, comparable with Santa Barbara, and rank among the Top 25 of 2,100 census neighborhoods. Only Portland, Minneapolis and San Francisco have 2 or more neighborhoods in the Top 25.

Philadelphia's rate of growth in bike commuting is astonishing. Between 2000 and 2009, the percentage of workers who bike to work counted by the US Census grew by 151 percent. This rate is similar to what the Bicycle Coalition documented by counting bicyclists on the street during the morning and evening rush hours; between 2005 and 2010, the average number of bikes per hour counted grew 127 percent. Between 1990 and 2009, the number of bicyclists crossing the Schuylkill River grew by 361 percent

Bike lanes, and more bicyclists, lead to better behavior. Sidewalk riding drops from 19.8% on streets with no bike lane to 8.6% on streets with a bike lane to 2.4% on streets with a buffered bike lane. The Bicycle Coalition's counts document that, between 2006 and 2010, while helmet use has risen, sidewalk riding and riding the wrong way have fallen at all counted locations.

Bicyclists like bike lanes, and they like buffered bike lanes even better. The Bicycle Coalition's counts found streets with bike lanes had more cyclists than streets without them, and had more growth in bicyclists than streets without bike lanes.

They also have more female bicyclists, less sidewalk riding, less wrong way riding, and more cyclists wearing helmets than streets without bike lanes. The buffered bike lanes had the same result, but even more amplified. These results confirm that better behavior goes hand in hand with better bicycling facilities. Facilities like buffered bike lanes make bicyclists feel safer.


Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia | 100 S Broad St Suite 1355 | Philadelphia | PA | 19110
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