TEDxPhiladelphia: The new two-wheeled workshop of the world

PlanPhilly is a partner for this year’s TEDxPhiladelphia event, and for the next few days we’re sharing ways we think Philly is becoming a “New Workshop of the World”. You can also join us for a tour of South Bank as part of TEDx.

One area that Philly is gaining momentum as “The New Workshop of the World” is bicycling. Philly has been at the top of most-bikeable city lists for years now, and the strong cycling community continues to push the envelope when it comes to solving the needs that city cycling presents.

The needs of urban cyclists are somewhat universal. At the top of the priority list, cyclists need places to lock up. They need, or at least prefer, designated spaces to ride, and they need support. Philly cyclists are familiar with these needs, but they are also familiar with the many, uniquely-Philly solutions.

As “The New Workshop of the World,” Philly fosters the creativity, collaboration and capacity to come up with things like “artsy” bike racks, inspiring bike trail alternatives, bike parking apps and collaboration between the city, state and many diverse partners that could serve as an efficient and effective model for all sorts of endeavors.

But don’t take my word for it. The proof is in the pedals. Hop on a bike and give the city a whirl, or check out these examples of how Philadelphia, “The New Workshop of the World,” is coming up with impressive ways to foster bicycling and meet the needs it presents.

ARTSY BIKE RACKS

“Imagine locking your bike to a cloud, or parking it amid huge blades of grass,” EOTS editor Ashley Hahn wrote in January. “That might be possible when new artist-designed bike racks hit the streets this summer.”

Artistic bike racks already exist at 20th and Sansom Streets where Shake Shack partnered with SHIFT_Design to create locally sourced and produced bike racks that double as both planters and art pieces and can hold 10-15 bicycles.

TAKING BIKE TRAILS TO NEW LEVELS

Just south of Locust Street, the Schuylkill River Trail gets squeezed between active rail lines and the water, and there is no way to continue the trail on shore. Instead, the Schuylkill River Development Corporation (SRDC) is leading a project that will carry the Schuylkill River Trail offshore, over a 2,000-foot-long “boardwalk.” At the southern end of the boardwalk, the trail will return to the shore and connect with the South Street Bridge.

BRIDGING THE BIKE-TECH DIVIDE

Two bike apps rose out of the third annual Apps for Philly Transit Hackathon held this past fall. “Kiqstand,” an app that maps registered bike-parking locations and user reviews, won second place. Hackers also produced “Cycle Philly,” which maps both bike parking and bike routes, and Philadelphia Bike Theft Data Animation, an animated map that shows three years of bike theft activity in an effort to raise awareness of the issue.

TEAMWORK MAKES THE DREAM WORK

In order to succeed, any great workshop needs cooperative partners. Philly has just that, and the Manayunk Bridge project is proof. The bridge, which could be completed as soon as May 2015, will link the Cynwyd Heritage Trail in Lower Merion with the planned Ivy Ridge trail in Manayunk. The project would not have been possible without the support of the City of Philadelphia, Lower Merion Township, Montgomery County, SEPTA, PennDOT and the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC).

“Honestly from my perspective, it was impressive to see all of the different stakeholders put their best foot forward and really work in a collaborative effort,” said Ryan Gallagher, a DVRPC planner who served as one of the project managers.

ABOUT TEDXPHILADELPHIA

TEDxPhiladelphia offers interactive, immersive experiences for all participants. The not-for-profit group, licensed by TED, was created in the spirit of the TED conference and its mission, “ideas worth spreading.” While the 2014 conference is SOLD OUT, audiences everywhere can access a free live video webcast of speaker talks at www.TEDxPhiladelphia.org on March 28 and watch talks year-round after the event.

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