Mystery Solved: This Is Why So Many People in Philly Bike

We don't have lots of buffered bike lanes, but we do have lots of bikers — here's why.



Awhile back, we told you guys that, of the most populous cities in the U.S., Philly has the highest percentage of bike commuters. And this is super awesome (go us!), but also a bit confusing, considering when it comes to infrastructure — in other words, the stuff that makes bikers feel comfortable on the streets — Philly is kind of lacking. So why are there so many cyclists in Philly, despite the lack of bike-friendly infrastructure to support them?

Well, Streetfilms, an organization that creates short films about sustainable transportation, set out to get the answer. They talked to a bunch of folks, asking why they use a bike to get around Philly, and the answers they got were pretty interesting. 

They found the reasons so many people bike here have a lot to do with how the city was designed way back when: The small streets, which drivers can barely fit down much of the time, are great for bikers because, a lot of time, there aren’t any cars to compete with. Plus, while tiny, single-lane streets make it difficult for the city to put in bike-friendly infrastructure, they also slow down traffic, which makes bikers feel safer on the road. And because driving can be a pain, what with all the one-way streets and slow-moving traffic, biking is oftentimes the fastest mode of transportation for getting around the city. One guy interviewed summed up his reasons for biking nicely, saying, Philly is “flat, dense, and impossible to drive in,” so biking it is.

But don’t get it twisted: Pretty much all the cyclists featured in the film would like to see more bike infrastructure, like buffered bike lanes, around the city. You can check out the full film (it’ll only eat up six minutes of your day) below. And while you’re at it, let’s give ourselves a big round of applause for being number one when it comes to bike commuting. Keep up the good work, people!

The Philadelphia Bike Story from STREETFILMS on Vimeo.

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