Could Philadelphia Become As Green And Progressive As Portland?

That’s the goal of a cadre of Philly cyclists who dream of turning the city into a bike-friendly paradise. In their way: one cranky Daily News columnist … and a whole lot of angry (sometimes punch-throwing) Philly drivers

Plus, he later reported, the Coalition cyclist counts that the city had leaned on to validate its plan were methodologically flawed — and thereby possibly inaccurate. (Everyone concedes the methodology wasn’t scientific, but it was believed to provide the best data available.) Bykofsky thinks the sloppy stats were beside the point, anyway — a smokescreen to justify what the city was always going to do. “If it was a campaign promise, okay, fine,” he says. “But then don’t tell me it has anything to do with anything else.”

Numbers aside, I tell him that I ride on the Pine and Spruce lanes — and you know what? It is easier. It’s great. I ride more often because of them, I say.

“More bike lanes make more happy bikers,” he says. “I don’t disagree. The question is, what is the cost to everyone else? Good for you. You represent 1.6 percent of the population.” He pauses for a millisecond before jabbing: “That’s very selfish.”

 Nobody, he continues, is speaking for the majority but him. And he doesn’t even own a car. But he lives on Spruce. And he watches, and it’s physics: “Two objects can’t be occupying the same space at the same time. When you take that many lanes out of Center City, it will create huge gridlock.” That, Bykofsky contends, will lead not to “traffic calming” but to the opposite: road rage.
 “And they’re gonna do it. So we’ll see.”

MICHAEL SANDERS SAYS he hasn’t had any trouble on the roads since The Punch. But neither he nor any of the bike guys in the sunlit bicycle shop think the incident is an anomaly. It’s just another symptom — albeit an extreme one — of the driver anger they’ve grown used to.

Sanders’s 45-year-old boss, Lee Rogers, has owned Bicycle Therapy for 20 years, and has been riding even longer. He loves it. Even his frustrations (namely, “People are assholes”) haven’t stripped him of the joy. Today he’s sitting at a counter in his shop, clicking through a series of photos from his April biking trip to Girona, Spain. “Look,” he says, pointing to a gaggle of 20 Lycra-clad cyclists pedaling in front of cars on the road. “The cars waited until we passed. There’s just this kind of courtesy there.”

Ah, the civilized shared road. Peace on the streets. Doty’s vision; Cutler’s dream. “Getting there is a question of trying to figure out what the public relations pieces are here, and the public education,” Cutler says. Doty’s group has always offered adult bike instruction and prides itself on its roaming “bike ambassadors,” who correct wayward bikers; now Cutler’s landed a grant to go into grammar schools to teach bike ed. “We’re trying to figure out how to have people be more civilized, less harried, more conscious of people and places around them,” she says.

 

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 < Previous Next >View as One Page

Be respectful of our online community and contribute to an engaging conversation. We reserve the right to ban impersonators and remove comments that contain personal attacks, threats, or profanity, or are flat-out offensive. By posting here, you are permitting Philadelphia magazine and Metro Corp. to edit and republish your comment in all media.

  • Diane

    Delighted to see the magazines extensive coverage on “Bike Lanes”, and quickly devoured the 8 less than content rich pages, which disappointed my “Bike People” spirit.

    Once again Philly mag. there is more to “our region” than just our city! Our city and its suburbs have for years been building cohesive bike trails and safe riding routes in Bucks, Chester, Montgomery and Delaware counties. Successes and failures are local efforts with the big picture plan of an interconnected trail system for all of our regions use. The Schuylkill river trail project is one great success, 67 planned miles connecting counties.

    Bike and non Bike People live and work in this region; its education, culture & life style are the richness of this region. There is little real education on sharing the roads for cars, pedestrians & cyclists. The League of American Bicyclists has a great deal of information to tap into, which was not referred to in the article. Bicycling magazine, published in our region, ranked Philadelphia 27 out of 50 for bike friendly cities.

    Lets stop venting Philadelphia and start talking, planning and implementing information to educate our region.

    For the record I am an avid cyclist.

  • Amanda

    Too bad this article was posted before the recent murder of a toddler by a driver and maiming of two other children and woman…all in one weekend. But drivers are up in arms about going 2mph slower. When will this podunk excuse for a city and police start enforcing red lights/stop signs/cell phone use for the people operating two ton vehicles who feel entitled and that the world should be catered to them. The people in this city show no respect for the well-being or rights of the people around them.

  • eltoro

    roll rampantly through our city every minute of every day. experienced both form of outrage mentioned. more than once. luckily that jerk off was caught. most cases don’t end so luckiy. and with the retarded laws in this city, i’m surprised it didn’t end the other way around. this town will never be like Portland because we’re not smart enough to realize that anger and ignorance is unnecessary and a detrement to a better way of life. this town hates peace.

  • Katharine

    As someone who was not a cyclist, I was initially concerned when a bike lane was put on my street. In the past, I have witness bicyclists riding aggressively and in ways that seemed designed to aggravate drivers. I thought that the lanes would lead to an increase of these antics in my neighborhood. I have been pleasantly surprised to find that I have witnessed none of this behavior since the bike lane was put on Spruce. Giving cyclists a designated space on the road seems to have decreased conflict between drivers and cyclists. As far as the traffic issue is concerned, it is really a non-issue in my neighborhood. Spruce and Pine are not arteries for commuters, especially since the South Street bridge closure.

  • Denise

    Really, a grant to teach bike ED? typical government response.
    Obey 3 rules.
    1.STOP AT ALL STOP SIGNS.
    2. DO NOT DRIVE BETWEEN CARS.
    3. STAY OFF THE SIDEWALK. There is your BIKE ED.

  • Andrew

    Why exactly does this magazine (and most other publications writing about this issue) paint a picture of biker vs. driver, us vs. them. I think the entire bicycle issue is overblown by a few loud voices. In the end we are talking about transferring only a small part of our street network to a group of low impact users. While bikers may be a new irritation to drivers already stressed by the challenges of urban driving, I think for the vast majority of people in Philadelphia, bicyclists are a non issue. The public needs to understand the benefits new cycling facilities bring to the city. They provide people with new mobility options and recreation opportunities, while making our streets safer. In a city that prides itself on having an ingrained way of doing things, maybe we should all lighten up and try new things for a change. Why must everything be such a battle?

  • Andrew

    Why exactly does this magazine (and most other publications writing about this issue) paint a picture of biker vs. driver, us vs. them. I think the entire bicycle issue is overblown by a few loud voices. In the end we are talking about transferring only a small part of our street network to a group of low impact users. While bikers may be a new irritation to drivers already stressed by the challenges of urban driving, I think for the vast majority of people in Philadelphia, bicyclists are a non issue. The public needs to understand the benefits new cycling facilities bring to the city. They provide people with new mobility options and recreation opportunities, while making our streets safer. In a city that prides itself on having an ingrained way of doing things, maybe we should all lighten up and try new things for a change. Why must everything be such a battle?

  • David

    This really shouldn’t be about two categories of people. I drive and I bike and I try not to be a jerk. Think about this, how many times have you, that’s right you yourself made a bone headed move while driving in your car. Maybe once in a while, right. Well multiply that by the numbers and there a lots of unintended, jerk actions happening all day by decent law abiding people, even if only 0.001 of a percent are making those mistakes offensive to the rest of us. Cyclists who weave in and out between cars in the street and pedestrians on the sidewalks are just as bad as the drivers selfish enough to believe they are the only people who matter. This debate isn’t about driver against cyclist, it is about taming and calming the rhetoric when a jerk is identified as a “biker” or a “driver.” Those people are jerks first.

  • jack

    Bikes go slow, clog up the roads and are generally helmed by self righteous over-educated gree-fascists. No Thanks Philadelphia