Biking In Philadelphia
I love being active. More specifically my body loves being active. This includes walking, running, and biking. The later is something I never thought of as a primary means of transportation until living in Philadelphia. Now I find myself conflicted because it is actually faster in many cases to bike from one point to another. However it does not seem as safe as other options due to how the city operates.
Cities Can Do Better
There are a number of examples of cities embracing biking. Removing parking spaces in leiu of bike racks, protecting bike lanes, enforcing rules of the road that are in place to encourage public and better transportation options. Philadelphia is unfortunately behind in embracing the desire of people to move away from vehicles and fully embrace better transportation options.
There is a distinct lack of bike parking in the city. Locking bikes to signs is ugly but is often necessary depending on where you are. The first step to supporting the use of an item or device is making it convenient to use and to make them feel welcome. People may have frustration with bikes because of where they are left as they become randomly placed around the city.
Improving Transportation Safety
Biking is not safe. Or rather not as safe as it could be. When it comes to bike safety most people want to take a safe route but when you fight cars for space and have cars that wish to squeeze past you one inattentive driver or issue with the road ahead could land you in the emergency room. This is why protected bike lanes are important and should be supported in major cities. Just like other public transportation a set route would allow for planning ahead and divide roads into bike or car friendly making all transportation safer for bikes and cars. These rules also require enforcement.
Enforcing Of Road Rules
If you have ever been on Walnut street you probably have seen the bus/bike only lane. Unfortunately people ignore this and drive in the lane. This makes it difficult for bikes to move in the lane and blocks buses from timely transportation. This causes delays in transportation and when cars ride in bike only lanes you increase the number of collisions. This issue is due to Philadelphia not enforcing the rules of the road. Make it a turn/bike/bus only lane and you increase the safety for those using public transit and bikers alike.
Why Not Bike?
Biking is not only a great way to exercise but also can be faster in center city to get from point a to point b. The safety on a bike is a joint effort between what the city provides and knowing the routes and obeying the rules of the road. By taking the steps to make sure you are safe biking is a great option people should consider when they live less than 2-3 miles from their work. The more people who choose to bike the more funds will be provided making it a better mode of transportation for everyone and reduce the pollution involved with cutting out the automobile.