July 27, 2011
Summer In The City: Our Guide To Biking In And Around Philadelphia; Most Popular Trails, Locally Made Gear, Bike Clubs And More
Last year, Philly was named one of the top 50 biking cities in the United States by Bicycling Magazine. And Philadelphia was recently ranked the #1 big city for bike commuting per capita in the U.S., a whopping two times as high as the next-best major city, Chicago.
Biking is not only eco-friendly, but a great way to keep fit and to get wherever you’re going, especially in the summertime. Whether you’re a seasoned rider or are just starting out, here are some helpful hints about the ins and outs of biking in Philadelphia:
Most Popular Trails: The Schuylkill River Trail wins by a landslide as the most popular biking destination. Stretching along the banks of the river, the scenic 25 miles includes the beautiful Kelly Drive and Boathouse Row. As if that mileage wasn’t enough, the trail is about to get an extension with a boardwalk from Locust Street to South Street.
You can also take your bike down to the sun-dappled waters of Wissahickon Creek for a ride along Forbidden Drive, a gravel path that winds its way through the trees. Or for a change of scenery and a paved path, go to Pennypack Park in Northeast Philadelphia for a scenic ride through green hills and creeks. And in the 800-acre Central Perkiomen Valley Park northwest of the city, an old Reading Railroad right-of-way has been converted into a trail perfect for mountain bikers of all levels.
Best Kept Secret Spot: The Cobbs Creek Park trail in West Philadelphia is a hidden gem for bikers. Aside from a great trail to bike, the park serves as a final resting place for Betsy Ross, and many other colonial men and women. For another less crowded path, head to the recently developed Delaware River Trail, a two-mile riverfront trail between Tasker Street and Lombard Street.
Where to Gear Up: Get properly outfitted in all of the necessary gear at Bicycle Therapy, a full-service shop in Center City that carries single-speed, mountain and trail bikes. Another stand-out is Bicycle Stable, a shop with a friendly, knowledgeable staff that will let you take your potential bike for a spin. For custom wheels, check out Bell’s Bikes, where they promise “if you can dream it, we can do it!”
Below, you’ll find info on bike rentals, clubs and more, plus a Schuylkill River Trail map. Commence the cycling!
Locally Grown Gear: For biking gear with local flair, check out R.E.Load Bags, a company that was started by two Philadelphia bike messengers. Perfect for cyclists, you can choose a cool design or create your own, and all bags are made by hand in Philadelphia.
Renting a Bike: Not ready to fully commit? Companies such as Fairmount Bicycles offer bicycles for rent on a daily or weekly basis. All rentals include a helmet and a bike lock, and range from $18 for a half day to $120 for a week. Human Zoom, steps from the Schuylkill River Trail in Manayunk, is another rental option. Philadelphia Bike and Moped Tours delivers rental bikes directly to area hotels; personal tours are available too.
Training Indoors: Breakaway Bikes holds classes at the Breakaway Training Center for beginners and more experienced riders alike. Classes on offer include RPM indoor cycling for all levels and types, coaching services, and biometric testing.
Finding Fellow Bikers: Share your passion with fellow bikers with rides and events sponsored by local clubs such as the Bicycle Club of Philadelphia, Suburban Cyclists Unlimited and West Chester Cycling Club.
Schuylkill River Trail map, for your reference: