Philly tops other U.S. big cities on food access and walkability

Philly is more walkable and has more access to healthy food than other large American cities yet it still struggles with higher rates of violence and chronic school absence than peer cities, according to the latest City Health Dashboard, a joint initiative by NYU’s Schools of Medicine and Public Service, the National Resource Network, ICMA and the National League of Cities. The dashboard tracked health data for 500 of America’s largest cities

Generocity’s Ivanie Cedeño breaks down a few of these key findings:

  • Nearly a third of public school children are chronically absent, compared to a national big-city average of 17 percent.
  • Sixty percent of live births receive adequate prenatal care, compared to an average of 78 percent in peer cities.
  • Philly experiences 995.8 violent crimes per 100,000 people, compared to an average of 511.2 per 100,000 in other cities.

On the bright side: “Only 22.3 percent of residents have limited access to healthy food — that is, live within a half-mile of a grocery store — compared to an average of 61.9 percent, and the city gets a walkability score of 79 out of 100, compared to an average of 42.8,” writes Cedeño. 

“With city and neighborhood-specific data, community leaders, city officials, and advocates now have a clearer picture of the biggest local challenges they face, and are better positioned to drive change,” write Abbey Cofsky, managing director for Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, in a press release announcing the new report, which was funded by the health-focused foundation.

Commuters: Prepare for Bike to Work Day, and every day

For first-time commuters and longtime cyclists alike, the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Grace Dickinson, shares ten tips for safe cycling in the city. Highlights include no-brainers like wearing a helmet to protect that noggin and investing in a good lock and lights. Dickinson also shares a handful of resources such as the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia (BCGP)’s map of bike lanes. Many of Dickinson’s tips focus on time management and preparation: “Bicycle commuting is not like  bicycle racing,” Dickinson writes, reminding readers to be patient and think twice about “running that stop sign,” but also to realistically to “assume the worst from drivers” and ride with hyper-vigilance.

The Daily News’ Ronnie Polaneczky points out that everyone, regardless of how frequently or professionally they ride, is susceptible to the dangers of the road. Pablo Avendano, “died while using his bicycle to earn a living,” Polaneczky writes. “He was the kind of bike user who gets forgotten in our sniping cars-vs.-bikes debates that pit “old” Philly against “new” Philly, all the while losing the bigger point: Increasing numbers of Philadelphians of every demographic are using their bikes to traverse the city, and they all deserve to use them safely.”

PSA: Annual Ride of Silence tonight

Philadelphia’s 14th annual Ride of Silence takes place tonight at 6:45pm. The ride, organized by BCGP, mourns the eleven cyclists killed by motorists and the hundreds who have had crashes involving motor vehicles in the last 12 months on the roads of the Delaware Valley and aims to raise awareness of all road users of cyclists on the road.

The 8-mile route will start at the front steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum on the Ben Franklin Parkway. A brief pre-ride dedication ceremony will take place at 6:45pm and the ride will start promptly at 7:00pm. The duration of the ride is expected to be 1 hour. Helmets are required and bicycle lights are encouraged.

Across the world, the ride is expected to be held at over 300 U.S. locations and in twenty countries this year.

For more information on tonight’s ride, contact the BCGP at


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