Why Not Bike Sharing in Philadelphia?

Have you visited Montreal in the past couple of years? How ’bout Paris? Barcelona? If so, one aspect of the tourist experience that probably jumped out at you during your trip was the presence of a bike share program in these aforementioned cities.

Bixi bikes in Montreal

Bike share, if you’ve never heard of the concept, involves bicycles being available for use on a per ride basis, opening up cycling to people who don’t own their own bikes. Commonly, these programs include numerous docking stations located at various locations around downtown areas, allowing riders to pick up a bike at one station and drop it off at a station that’s within a couple of blocks of their destination.

Considering the concentrated downtown area in Philadelphia, the relatively flat nature of Center City, and the unfortunate propensity for nice bikes to get stolen off the street, it would seem like our green country towne would be a great candidate for a bike sharing program. And that’s just what Bike Share Philadelphia is hoping to achieve. In fact, there’s even a Feasibility Study that was done back in 2010 that pretty well establishes that a bike share program could indeed work in Philadelphia.

Suggested phase 1 and phase 2 map from the feasibility study

Currently, Bike Share Philadelphia is asking people where they would like to see bike share docking stations. As you might expect from such a crowd-sourced question, the answer is, everywhere!

Center City filled with bike docks

Filtering by popularity, you see a slightly more reasonable vision.

Maybe a more intuitive first step

So what are the next steps to get this off the ground? We’d guess that the Mayor or a member of City Council would have to make it a priority to get things moving and hire a company to start to roll out the program. So… what’s the holdup?

And for people who think this is a terrible idea and don’t want to give up parking spaces or sidewalk real estate to bike share docks, we can say from experience that bike share is way cool and you just don’t know what you’re missing. Catch the bike share fever, people!!!