Tidbit Tuesday | Breakdown of Bicycle Parking Spaces in Center City

On Tuesdays, the Mayor’s Office of Transportation & Utilities (MOTU) posts a map or graphic that tells a story about transportation or utilities in the City of Brotherly Love.

Did you know that Center City Philadelphia is home to more than 5,000 bicycle parking spaces? This week we graphed data describing bicycle parking in Center City which is available on OpenDataPhilly here.  We graphed the percentage of bicycle parking spaces available in Center City by the type of bicycle parking (we only included formal bicycle parking, a structure whose purpose is only for bicycle parking, and did not include informal bicycle parking, a structure whose initial purpose is for something other than bicycle parking, such as a sign post).  For a more detailed understanding of the different types of bicycle parking available in Center City in this data set, please check out the data’s metadata located here.

As can be seen in the graph, 50% of all bicycle parking spaces in Center City are made available through staple racks (sometimes known as inverted u-racks).  In addition, converted parking meters make up an additional 32% of all bicycle parking spaces.  School yard racks, wave racks, and on-street corrals make up the remaining 18%.  We did not include hitchpost style bicycle parking and miscellaneous bicycle parking (examples of which can be seen here), as both provide too few bicycle parking spaces in Center City to be able to be seen on this chart.  That being said, we did include the total bicycle parking spaces provided by these structures in our overall counts.

Breakdown of Bicycle Parking Spaces in Center City-01

Please note that breakdown is the percent of the number of parking spaces available, not by the total number of bicycle parking structures are available.  A quick summary of the data is as follows:

Total Number of Bike Parking Spaces
Converted Parking Meter 1,640 32%
Hitch Style 12 0%
Other 8 0%
School Yard 630 12%
Staple or Inverted-U 2,612 50%
Street Corral 110 2%
Wave 210 4%
Total 5,222  100.0%

What is your favorite type of bicycle parking?


30th St Station Completes West Plaza Renovations

We are pleased to announce that Amtrak has completed its West Plaza renovation at 30th St Station (check out their announcement here). The West Plaza, which has be under construction for the last year, has been renovated to include more automobile parking, outdoor seating, additional bicycle parking, and LED lighting.

West Plaza 2

Birds-eye view of completed project, image courtesy of Amtrak

We have heard and observed your need for additional bicycle parking at 30th St Station.  Earlier this week we released a graphic illustrating how 30th St Station has the most bicycles parked at the station and high percentage of them are parked informally.  We also did a study earlier this year about bicycle parking at 30th St Station and its users (check it out here).  Therefore, we are excited that the completion of the West Plaza renovation expands the bicycle parking capacity on the west side of the station to nearly 100 spaces.  In addition to this bicycle parking, we here at MOTU worked with Amtrak to bring six more bicycle racks to the east side of 30th St Station (the side closest to the Schuylkill River).  In total, 30th St Station is expanding its bicycle parking by approximately 150 NEW SPACES.

In addition to bicycle parking, the renovation also offers a safer and more pleasant environment for pedestrians.  The addition of energy-efficient LED lighting, an at-grad pedestrian crosswalk, new planters, and additional outdoor seating all help to enhance the pedestrian and visitor experience.

Finally, the renovation also includes additional metered parking spaces for automobiles.  There are now 14 additional parking spaces along “Little Market Street” in areas that were previously restricted.

Have you been by and seen the improvements? What do you think?

Abandoned Bicycle Removal Frees Up Bike Racks and Sidewalks

Last month, MOTU asked the public to help locate abandoned bicycles, and Philadelphians responded with approximately 200 reports of abandoned bikes to Philly311. Citizen input allowed MOTU to complete a sweep last Thursday, removing more than 60 abandoned bicycles from city streets and donating them to local non-profit organizations that provide mechanical and work skills training through bicycle refurbishing.

The lock on each tagged bike needs to be ground off individually.

The lock on each tagged bike needs to be ground off individually.

As ridership continues to grow in Philadelphia, the need for reliable bike parking is on the rise, and bike racks are becoming crowded in parts of the city. MOTU and the Streets Department periodically collect abandoned bikes to keep bicycle parking available and to keep our narrow sidewalks clear. A typical commercial street could have up to 30 bicycle parking spaces per block, counting both sides of the street, so clearing 60 bicycles could have the effect of installing two whole blocks worth of new bicycle parking. Or five additional bike corrals.

An inoperable back tire, rusted chain, and debris collected around the wheel all indicate that this bicycle had not been claimed in a long time.

An inoperable back tire, rusted chain, and debris collected around the wheel all indicate that this bicycle had not been claimed in a long time.

We always want to be confident that each bike we remove is abandoned. Each reported bicycle was inspected and tagged with a neon-colored notice at least one week prior to removal. Only bicycles that were inoperable, damaged or deteriorated, and located on public property were collected.

Loading collected bicycle parts into the truck.

Loading collected bicycle parts into the truck.

Help Us Locate Abandoned Bicycles

Over the past year, MOTU and the Streets Department have been periodically removing abandoned bicycles from public streets. As we gear up for an upcoming sweep starting on Thursday, June 27th, we need your help! If you spot an abandoned bike on the sidewalk, please tell us through Philly311, either at www.phila.gov/311, with the Philly 311 smartphone app, or by calling 311 (also reachable at 215-686-8686).

When reporting, include a description of the bicycle’s color, location, any damage or missing parts, and what the bike is locked to (such as a bike rack, sign post, etc.). A bicycle is considered abandoned if it has missing or damaged parts, is in unusable condition, and has been locked in the same location for one month or longer.

Removal notices ready to go.

Removal notices ready to go.

Abandoned bicycles will be tagged with a bright green or pink notice at least seven days prior to removal. If your bike gets tagged by mistake, simply take off the tag and move your bike to different bike rack. You can also call us at 215-686-5493 if you are unable to move your bicycle or if you have any questions.

Clearing abandoned bicycles helps keep our limited bicycle parking and scarce sidewalk space useful and safe for everyone. All the bicycles we collect will be donated to local charities that specialize in refurbishing bicycles.

“No Bicycle Parking” — An Upcoming Photography Exhibit


A new exhibit, “No Bicycle Parking” opens at Philadelphia’s Painted Bride Art Center on Thursday, March 21st. It is the culmination of an ongoing, 12-year photography project– which documents 400+ photographs of abandoned and stripped bicycles from across the world. Photographer Raphael Xavier’s exhibit is culled from photos of more than 400 abandoned and stripped bikes and creates a silent tableau of loss and mourning from cities around the world. The artist will be at the gallery collecting personal stories from owners of lost or stripped bikes for his upcoming book.

Raphael Xavier will record and collect hand-written stories from owners of lost or stripped bikes during the exhibit. Bike owners can also send their stories to the artist by email. Bike owners with stories to share are encouraged to visit the exhibit. “No Bicycle Parking” will be on view March 21 and 22, 2013. Painted Bride gallery hours are 12-8 p.m. Admission is free. A limited number of prints will be available for sale.

Xavier says, “I want to find the owners of the stripped chrome horses who thought they would never see their bikes again. This is a sort of viewing; a celebration or service to put all those unanswered questions to rest, so the bike owners can know that the remains of those bikes are beautifully captured, just as when they first laid eyes on them in a Philly store window.”

Stories from owners of abandoned bikes may be selected for inclusion in the upcoming printed, large-format art volume of Raphael Xavier’s abandoned bicycle art photographs.

Xavier is a Pennsylvania Fellow of the Arts in Folk and Traditional forms and has been funded by the Independence Foundation and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. His photography has been featured in print publications such as Bike Magazine, Vibe, Blaze and Rap Pages, and was exhibited at the Sweeney Art Gallery’s Re:Cycle–Bike Culture in Southern California exhibit at the University of California, Riverside. For more information, visit http://www.raphaelxavier.com.

Tidbit Tuesday — Bicycle Parking at 30th St Station

Every Tuesday, the Mayor’s Office of Transportation & Utilities (MOTU) posts a map or graphic that tells a story about transportation or utilities in the City of Brotherly Love.  This week we will be taking a look at bicycle parking at 30th St Station.

The Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities recently did a survey of those parking their bicycles at 30th St Station.  We found that the vast majority of those parking their bicycle at 30th St Station are doing so in order to ride Amtrak or SEPTA Regional Rail.


We also found that the majority of those biking to 30th St Station are commuters completing the first or last mile of their commute trip by bicycle.


Tidbit Tuesday — Have you parked at any of Philadelphia’s on-street bicycle corrals?

Every Tuesday, the Mayor’s Office of Transportation & Utilities (MOTU) posts a map or graphic that tells a story about transportation or utilities in the City of Brotherly Love.

bicyclecorrallocations [Converted]-01

This map displays the eight on-street bicycle corrals throughout Philadelphia.  Each bicycle corral can park up to 12 bicycles in the space of one car parking space.  How many of these bicycle corrals have you parked at?

What’s the Link Between Consumer Behavior and Travel Mode?

The conventional thinking for retail businesses such as convenience stores, restaurants, bars, and supermarkets is that customers will be traveling to the establishment by way of private automobile.  Unfortunately, this has also led to business owners fearing that they would lose business without adequate space for automobiles.

Recently, Professor Kelly Clifton, Christopher Muhs, Sara Morrissey, Tomas Morrissey, Kristina Currans, and Cloe Ritter of the Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium have published a study that examines the consumer preferences of pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users, and motorists to determine whether the mode of transportation significantly affects consumer behavior, particularly the frequency of visiting businesses and the amount spent during each visit.

Two charts compare the frequency of visits and amount of spending per transportation mode. (Courtesy Oregon Transportation Research)

Two charts compare the frequency of visits and amount of spending per transportation mode. (Courtesy Oregon Transportation Research)

The study used intercept surveys to ask restaurant, bar, convenience store, and supermarket patrons about their mode of transportation, how often they visit the establishment, and how much they spend on average.  The results showed that there are clear distinctions in the frequency of visits and the average amounts spent per trip, dependent on the customer’s mode of access.

There are two key findings from this study.  First, at restaurants, bars, and convenience stores, non-motorists (pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit riders) are competitive consumers, meaning that mode choice does not significantly impact consumer spending at convenience stores.  Further, over the course of a month, non-motorists actually spend more on average than motorists at convenience stores, bars, and restaurants.

A bike corral outside Reading Terminal Market.

A bike corral outside Reading Terminal Market.

Second, the built environment, including factors such as density, proximity to transit, and bicycling infrastructure, explain the use of non-automobile modes.  In particular, bike corrals and bike racks are significant predictors of bike use at nearby business establishments.

This research is important for Philadelphia in that it helps illustrate the link between mode choice and consumer spending.  Moreover, it empirically shows that removing a parking space for bicycle racks or pedestrian facilities will not adversely affect business at an establishment.  As Philadelphia continues to grow and redesign the streets for all modes of transportation it will be necessary to incorporate non-automobile infrastructure as an approach to encourage equitable transportation and activity in all neighborhoods.

Read the Full Report:

Consumer Behavior and Travel Mode Choices

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