Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 was a Good Year for Bicycling in Our City and Region

Year-end bicycling blog posts are a strange undertaking. The best parts of a year's worth of bicycling are not easily ordered, numbered, or even classified. My personal "bicycling year in review" would include things like this:
  • February: The first day in months I rode without gloves.
  • June: Rode down Locust and banked perfectly into the turn such that I got nearly to the intersection at South Street without pedaling.
  • December: Got caught riding back from Belmont Mansion Plateau during a snowstorm.
  • Every month: All those times I wasn't stuck in a car in traffic.
But here at the Bicycle Coalition, we also trade in victories, events, new trails, new legislation, and other, more tangible aspects of bicycling. So as we look forward to another year of better bicycling in the Greater Philadelphia Region, here are some of the things that happened in 2013 which deserve partial credit for the good 2014 rides yet to come.

A By-No-Means-Comprehensive Look at Bicycling Milestones in 2013

  • Our artist-designed bike rack project is named a Knight Arts Challenge grant finalist. Look for an announcement on the winning designs this spring!
  • Philadelphia's new "Road Safety, Not Rocket Science" campaign launches, placing snarky billboards around town encouraging everyone to share our roads safely.
  • This happened (we never heard a final story on how or why this happened, by the way):

  • The Tacony Creek trail opens.
  • The Greater Philadelphia Pedestrian & Bicycle Summit brings together an impressive array of local, national, and foreign folks to share ideas, dreams, and strategies for making our city safer and smarter.
  • Our Circuit Commitment Campaign kicks off. We will be representing the 2,000+ signers of the Circuit Petition as we meet in the upcoming months to seek new funding for trails!
  • Bike Month!
June (aka "New Bike Lane Month")
  • The Penn Street Trail along the Delaware brings Philly its first cycle track. 
  • The 58th Street Greenway enjoys its ribbon cutting.
  • The Fairmount Ave bike lanes go in.
  • We release our new report on the lousy options for pedestrians or bicyclists to cross the Delaware River.
  • We help a national effort to beat back Rand Paul's attack on Transportation Alternatives.
  • A front-runner for Most Adorable Picture of the Year is taken at an ABCs of Family Biking event on the Schuylkill River Trail:

  • Camden, NJ opens new bike lanes near the Delaware River.
  • The youngest and cutest member of the Bicycle Coalition, Emil Steif, is born to Diana Owens Steif and Ken Steif.
  • Census data reveals that Philadelphia's bicycle commuting rate has risen again and continues to lead the nation among the country's ten biggest cities. Woot woot!
  • Our Women Bike PHL Campaign teams up with Girl Scouts to create the Girl Scouts On Wheels patch.
  • We merge with the Cadence Cycling Foundation, dramatically expanding our educational programming for Philadelphia children.
  • Our petition requesting Amtrak to install more bike parking at 30th Street Station is met with a commitment to do just that. Most of the racks have since been installed, greatly helping those who wish to bike for the first or last mile of their trips.
  • The Lawrence Hopewell Trail and the Delaware River Heritage Trail both enjoy ribbon cuttings.
  • Philly's bicycling ecosystem expands with the launching of University Bike Collective and PhillyPedals.
  • Construction begins on Philly's Pumptrack.
  • We release the aforementioned report on the first 10 months of Women Bike PHL. The TL;DR version: we (mostly Katie) made huge strides in building community and awareness, but there's much more work to be done to close the gender gap.
  • After drama that would make the writing staff of Glee blush, Pennsylvania passes a transportation bill.
  • We release a map showing the locations of reported bike crashes in Philly.
  • We reach an agreement with the PPA in which they will monitor the #unblockbikelanes Twitter hashtag for reports of cars parked in bike lanes.
  • Construction crews lay the finishing touches on the 9-mile extension of the Chester Valley Trail.
  • We receive a $50,000 grant from NBCUniversal to expand our program of Walking School Buses in Philadelphia. 
  • We march closer to the opening of Philadelphia's bike share system, still scheduled for debut in the fall of 2014.
  • The Circuit grew by 33 miles! You can read a recap of the year on the Circuit over at the Circuit's official blog.
Oliver celebrating the opening
of a protected coral reef bike lane
And throughout the year, people hopped on bicycles. We rode to work and school, to the park, with our children, in professional or amateur races, to burn off calories or stress, or just to get out of the house. We did so on dearly-beloved cruisers, slick new racing bikes, recumbents, tandems, mountain bikes and fixies. We rode on streets that are becoming safer, and on newly-built trails that are beginning to connect to one another.

And most of the time, those rides were fun. Because riding bicycles is fun. No matter how wonky things get around here, how buried in the trenches of transportation funding or urban planning we become, we never forget that what we're trying to do is make our region a better, safer place to ride a bicycle. It is important work, we're grateful to do it, and we are thankful to the thousands of people who helped make all the above happen. They are too many to name. So thanks from us for a year of great bicycling moments, big and small, and here's to a 2014 of even better bicycling.