The Other Parking Problem

 

A parking meter converted into bike parking in Center City | Photo: Peter Woodall

A parking meter converted into bike parking in Center City | Photo: Peter Woodall

The gradual expansion of Philadelphia’s bike infrastructure, with marked bike lanes and signage, has dramatically helped to improved cycling’s utility and appeal, an achievement confirmed recently by the real estate website Walk Score, which added Philadelphia to the list of 25 US cities for which it now provides Bike Score ratings. The city’s overall Bike Score of 68 ties it with Boston as fourth most bike friendly large city in the United States, according to their survey.

In dense Center City and around, the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities has been sensibly turning some on-street parking spaces into bike parking lots and making bike hitching posts out of onetime parking meter mounts. This effort is quietly transforming the way we think about and use public space downtown.

The story is different, however, in less crowded neighborhoods, particularly in the Northeast, where I live. Out there, wide streets make biking easy even without marked bike lanes. But once you get to your destination, good luck finding a place to park your bike.

Here, private property owners can make a difference. Because many businesses in the area already provide car parking on their property, accommodating bikes should be as easy as installing a rack or two in the parking lot.

The author, on a supermarket run in his Oxford Circle neighborhood this past summer. The store's easy to bike to, but where does one put the bike once there?

The author, on a supermarket run in his Oxford Circle neighborhood this past summer. The store’s easy to bike to, but where does one put the bike once there?

My own unscientific survey of businesses shows that very few do this, though. Only one of the four supermarkets within a 20-minute bike ride of my residence, for instance, has a bike rack on its premises.

The situation in the more pedestrian-oriented business districts is not much better. There’s car parking in the rear of several Castor Avenue stores, but no accommodation for bikes. The sidewalks are also wide enough that sidewalk bike racks could be installed without impeding pedestrian flow, but again, no such creatures exist.

The experience with even limited bike infrastructure demonstrates that bike infrastructure brings more bicyclists out of the woodwork and makes both driving and bicycling safer as motorists get used to seeing bicyclists on the street. Other districts like the Lower Northeast have similar potential–my home’s Bike Score matches the citywide average, for instance. If local business owners put out the welcome mat for bicyclists as they do for drivers, they might find more customers arriving by bike.

About the author

Sandy Smith has been engaging in journalism and its hired-gun cousin, public relations, in Philadelphia for nearly 30 years. He started award-winning newspapers at the University of Pennsylvania as part of a team and at Widener University all by himself. He has a passionate interest in cities and urban development, which he gets to indulge as editor-in-chief of the Philadelphia Real Estate Blog, and in trains and mass transit, which he indulges wherever and whenever he gets the chance. (You may know him as "MarketStEl" if you lurk on Philadelphia Speaks.)

Send a message!



2 Comments


  1. Have you tried contacting the store manager and asking to have a bike rack installed? My sister did that with her local Giant…it was as easy as making a single phone call.

  2. Hey Sandy, here’s a tip for you: Many parking lots have handicapped spots with signposts. You can tie up to those, which are often behind those wheel-stopping doodads so you’re fairly safe from getting your bike rammed.

Trackbacks

  1. Lunchtime Quick Hits | Philadelphia Real Estate Blog
Recent Posts
Past & Future On Chestnut's 700 Block

Past & Future On Chestnut’s 700 Block

March 26, 2015  |  Morning Blend

Four commercial properties to be nominated for historical designation, a 32-story apartment tower planned for 7th & Chestnut, and Philly's population ever so slightly increases > more

Difficulty Ahead In Preserving Socioeconomic Diversity For Gentrifying Neighborhoods

Difficulty Ahead In Preserving Socioeconomic Diversity For Gentrifying Neighborhoods

March 25, 2015  |  Morning Blend

What the data suggests for the future of economic equality in Philadelphia, Tinicum approves PHL runway expansion plans, food trucks push for less restrictive municipal regulations, and Clark urges Archdiocese to refrain from demolishing Fishtown church just yet > more

Surveying The Damage With <em>Abandoned America: The Age of Consequences</em>

Surveying The Damage With Abandoned America: The Age of Consequences

March 25, 2015  |  Vantage

A picture is worth a thousand words, but some can leave you speechless. We caught up with photographer Matthew Christopher to discuss a nation in architectural decline and his new book, "Abandoned America: The Age of Consequences" > more

More Homes Coming To South Kensington

More Homes Coming To South Kensington

March 24, 2015  |  Morning Blend

Development pressure creeps up from Fishtown and Northern Liberties, another scandal for L&I, a history of sink-ins, and adaptive reuse on the Main Line > more

PHS To Make Laurel Hill Entrance More Inviting

PHS To Make Laurel Hill Entrance More Inviting

March 23, 2015  |  Morning Blend

Traffic island to be remade by PHS, Fishtown church demolished, Penn study suggests the health benefits of green lots, and Oh moves to get bridges fixed > more

A Disaster Waiting To Happen? Oil Trains And The Collision at Fairmount Park Tunnel

A Disaster Waiting To Happen? Oil Trains And The Collision at Fairmount Park Tunnel

March 23, 2015  |  Harry K's Encyclopedia

Crude oil train accidents are happening all over the country at an alarming rate. As 160,000 barrels move through Philadelphia daily, many worry that a disaster is going to happen sooner than later. Harry K put an eye on present day concerns about the oil trains running along the Schuylkill River East Side Railroad and looks at the tragic accident of 1900 inside Fairmount Park Tunnel > more