Nutter taps board to make Philly more of a biking hub

It’s not quite Portland Ore., but Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter is trying to bolster the city’s reputation as a bicycling mecca, both for professional races and everyday riding.

“The city of Philadelphia is poised to emerge as one of the nation’s great cycling cities, and we want to increase the ways in which we are already encouraging bicycling,” said Mayor Nutter right before he signed an Executive Order to create the Philadelphia Bicycle Advocacy Board.

The  appointed board is charges with transforming Philadelphia into a bike friendly city even after the Nutter administration leaves following next year’s mayoral election.

The board will specifically, “advise the Mayor on ways to promote bicycling among Philadelphians and on public policies that effect cyclists; foster volunteer efforts that promote cycling and maintain cycling trails; encourage private sector support of cycling, especially among Philadelphia employers; and promote national and international races in Philadelphia to attract the most elite cyclists to compete in the city,” according to Nutter’s communications office.

With more than 500 miles of bike lanes, cycling is already a popular mode of transportation in Philadelphia. A new bike share system will launch in the spring.

“Of the top ten big cities of America, Philadelphia has the highest percentage of bicycle commuters per capita. More than 13,000 Philadelphians cycle to work on a regular basis,” said Nutter. “Bicycling is a fundamental aspect of a city’s mobility, economic development, public health, and environmental sustainability.”

The formation of the Advocacy Board was also inspired by a trip to Paris last July in which Nutter and a delegation of Philadelphia business people and cycling leaders met with the President of the Union Cycliste Internationale. Nutter proudly announced that Philadelphia will host a Women’s World Cup series event.

The Board is eager to build Philadelphia’s reputation as a site for high-profile professional cycling events. Nutter said being a bike-friendly city will help attract tourists and new residents.

“The bike is a tool,” said Alex Doty, Executive Director of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia. “It’s about making Philadelphia a better place to live.”

Karen Bliss, Vice President of Marketing for Advanced Sports International, will serve as the Board’s Chair. The other fourteen appointed members include: Philip Senechal, Velodrome Planning Team; Joseph Wentzell, co-owner of Breakaway Bikes; Patrick Cunnane, president of Advanced Sports International; Lisa Nutter (the mayor’s wife), president of Philadelphia Academies, Inc.; Camille Durocher, technical consultant; Kristin Gavin, executive director of Gearing Up; Sean Petty, USA Cycling and Union Cycliste Internationale; Marty Nothstein, president of the Valley Preferred Cycling Center and Olympic gold medalist for track cycling; Heidi Grumwald, dco-creator of Philadelphia Pump Track; Alex Doty, executive director of the Philadelphia Bicycle Coalition; Ryan Oelkers, founder of the Cadence Foundation; Matt Diefenbach, senior account manager of Motorola; Gary Ryan, owner of Vie 13; Mark Featherman, attorney.

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Mayor Michael Nutter signs an Executive Order creating the Philadelphia Bicycle Advocacy Board (Katya Botwinick/for NewsWorks)

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