More than 2X the number of bike commuters per capita of NYCPhiladelphia might not be the first place that you think of when you think of a city where cycling is thriving, but according to the latest U.S. Census, the city's bicycle commuting rate of 2.3% is significantly superior to Chicago (1.6%) and more than 2X New York's (1.0%). As our friend Clarence says, of U.S. cities with more than a million residents, the one where people bike the most is Philadelphia.
They must be doing something to get such good results, right? But it doesn't seem to be because the infrastructure is better; in fact, while things have been improving, the number of well protected bike lanes is relatively low and while they now have a bike share, that's a new thing that didn't make a difference in the 2012 census.
To unravel the enigma of why Philly is such a bike city, check out this wonderful video that untangles the various factors that have helped cyclists in the city. Hopefully many of those can be replicated elsewhere, and Philadelphia's own shortcomings can be fixed so that the rate of cycling increases even more!
Philadelphia has a very narrow street grid which - unfortunately - doesn't allow for ample room to paint bike lanes in many neighborhoods, but it does have the effect of producing streets where cars and bikes are sharing the road at a reasonable speed. That means bikes are sometimes squeezed but that the slower pace makes biking feel more like a negotiation with drivers. Street users come to frequent stops at intersections thanks to 4-way stops. The traffic light sequencing is short. And the city's residents also tend to live closer to their jobs than most other places, making biking more of an option. (source)
If you want to know more about Philadelphia's bike share, check this out: