More Ways to Get Around

Alex de Berardinis, for GPA -- Philadelphia and its transportation systems are about to receive a huge boon from the addition of a citywide bike sharing system, increased night services from SEPTA and the swelling numbers of attractions and activities on the Schuylkill and Delaware rivers.

Mayor Nutter’s announcement on April 24 to introduce the new bike share system propels the evolution of Philadelphia’s transportation system ever closer to world-class levels. While Philadelphia’s transportation system has been criticized in the past, it seems as if one of the city’s greatest challenges is finally morphing into one of its strongest assets.

Mayor Nutter introduced the new bike sharing system by riding into work on one of the prototypes on “Ride Your Bike Into Work Day” this spring. This initiative represents a major step for Philadelphia on the road to becoming a truly global city. While Philadelphia has lagged behind other major cities on the introduction of bike sharing systems (over 40 U.S. cities already have some form of a bike-sharing system), Philadelphia is considered one of the most bikeable cities in the country and it has benefited from assessing what has worked and what hasn’t in bike share programs around the world

After years of research and discussion, the city of Philadelphia chose the bike sharing companies Bicycle Transit Systems for the planning and operating phase and B-cycle to provide the physical means to make the program happen. With more than 60 stations offering over 600 bikes throughout the city, the system looks to provide transportation assistance to a diverse Philadelphia population, including low-income residents. Not only will this bike sharing system benefit Philadelphians, it will also make traveling around Philadelphia much easier for tourists, something Americans often take advantage of in European cities.

Greg Krykewycz, the manager of the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, believes a bike share program is now a necessity for big cities. “Bike share has quickly become an amenity that cities are expected to have, both for locals and for visitors,” he said. When this program begins in the spring of 2015, this new initiative will not only provide practical advantages to Philadelphians across the city. It will also signal the continuing arrival of Philadelphia as a truly global city. For more information on the new bike sharing system, visit the city's bikeshare page.

In addition to the bike sharing system, SEPTA announced on June 3 that it will be reintroducing a new night service predominantly based in the Center City area to increase access, availability and tourism to the growing late night attractions and activities within one of Philadelphia’s most vibrant areas.

This new upgrade will provide 24-hour service on both the Market-Frankford Line, which provides access from West Philadelphia to Center City and North Philadelphia, and the Broad Street Line, which links South Philadelphia together with Center City. A petition for this addition garnered over 25,000 signatures in under a month and it places Philadelphia in an exclusive group of cities worldwide that provide 24-hour services through their transportation system.

New York and Chicago are currently the only other cities in the United States with this kind of accessible transportation policy. Philadelphia’s new service will begin on June 15 and will run through the summer as a trial to evaluate its effectiveness, safety benefits and cost impact. This upgrade to Philadelphia’s transportation system increases access and appeal in and around the city and is sure to boost the city’s already thriving world-class business, entertainment and tourism community. Other cities can look to Philadelphia for inspiration and guidance. For more information on the service and schedules, visit SEPTA's website.

In addition to the new ground transportation opportunities in Philadelphia, an increasing number of activities can be found along the waterfront – on the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers. Both of these rivers provide valuable opportunities for Philadelphia to expand its reach in the tourism, entertainment and transportation sectors. The Independence Seaport Museum located on Penn’s Landing offers a variety of exciting seafaring activities along the Delaware River that range from boat rentals to summer camps, as well as valuable historical information on the region. With more and more attention being placed on the waterfront, these diverse offerings lend even more credence to Philadelphia as a global city. For more information on activities on the waterfront visit this recent philly.com "Things to Do" blog

Photo courtesy of pennlive.com.