When I lived in DC, I commuted by bike almost every day for seven years. At some point, I discovered that the parking garage around the corner from my office—a private one, attached to another office building—had a few bike racks in it, just down the ramp. It was a glorious discovery, considering I’d spent several months prior wrapping my bike seat in a plastic bag (classy!) any time the weather forecast called for a hint of rain. Safely locked up in the garage, my bike would be completely covered no matter what the wacky weather brought, and it’d be safer, too, tucked away from potential bike thieves and under the very watchful eye of a security guard posted 20 feet away. Amazing!
Fast forward to two years ago, when I moved back to Philly and started commuting by bike here. For two whole years, I searched high and low for a covered bike-rack option. Since I couldn’t find one, I’ve opted not to ride on days that call for rain. No biggie—it doesn’t rain all too much here. And then about a month ago, it started raining and basically hasn’t stopped since, so finding a better bike parking option has been at the very top of my to-do list.
And then something miraculous happened. Last week as I was coming up from the bowels of the train tunnels that lead to Suburban Station and, further down, City Hall—I rode the train to work that day because it was raining, grrrrr—I saw them: a whole mess of bike racks under an overhang in the courtyard of the BNY Mellon Building at 1735 Market Street, just a block down from Philly Mag HQ. I could live with that! Sure, it’s ever-so-slightly less convenient than parking on the bike rack in front of our building, but there, at least, my ride would be weather protected. Done and done.
But I still wondered, as I’ve wondered so often in Philly: Why in the world aren’t there more covered bike-rack options here? And if there were, would more people be enticed to commute on two wheels?
The short answer to the second question is yes, they would. At least, that’s according to the results of a Bicycle Coalition survey released in March, in which 87 percent of respondents said they want more or better bike parking in our region, including covered options. Offering these options, they said, would make them less inclined to drive. So I guess I’m not alone.
As for an answer to the first question—why covered bike parking is so damn hard to find here—I reached out to Bicycle Coalition spokesman Nicholas Mirra, who said the problem is likely that covered spaces are privately owned: “The onus is on the private landowner to install the racks.” So I guess private landowners in DC are just nicer than they are here? (Do you hear me Philly parking garage owners?!)
Whatever the case, I am on a mission to find as many covered bike parking options as I can. Obviously, I’ve got the one at 1735 Market and the racks at 30th Street Station, but Nicholas added the bike corrals at Reading Terminal Market, which are also covered, and said that the sidewalk racks alongside the Kimmel Center on Spruce miiiight get some cover from the high-up overhang, but he couldn’t be sure. (Someone! Confirm this!)
Below, I’ve started a Google Map to plot all the covered bike racks we can find. Guys, it’s pathetic so far, and I know we can do better. (Update: It’s not so pathetic anymore! Thank you for all your contributions! But keep them coming.) So here’s your mission: Leave a comment with your covered-bike-parking tips (including street address or intersection/cross streets, please) and I’ll add your intel to the map. Nicholas also tells me that he has an intern working on this very project this summer—he’s calling all the parking garages in the area to find out if they offer covered racks—so any data you share here could wind up on a map they’re putting together. Which, of course, I’ll share as soon as it’s done.
Ready? Aaaand, go.
View Covered Bike Racks in Philadelphia, PA in a larger map