By Danny Barron, Transportation Contributor
Since I moved to Philly, I’ve committed to traveling almost exclusively by bicycle. This comes with the usual benefits. A bike provides gas-free, pollution-free transportation, great exercise, and infinite free parking. On the other hand, you have complications like the possibility of theft, difficulty in procuring groceries or Ikea desks, and a limited radius of travel, although nowhere is too far if you’ve got the time.
Among these issues, weather is probably the biggest. Sometimes, standing at a traffic light during an unexpected thunderstorm, I gaze into the cabin of the nearest car and dream of the benefits of a roof, climate control, and a radio that probably would’ve warned me of the inclement weather. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
For each time I’ve ended up caught in the rain, soaked and covered in mud and dirty street water, there are dozens of moments to think back on fondly. Bad weather is instantly trumped by bright, sunlit cruise along Kelly Drive, getting all green lights on Spruce Street during rush hour and passing by the traffic with a dumb smirk, or a cool evening ride down Columbus Boulevard and under the Ben Franklin Bridge.
I think you see the city in a more enjoyable way than when you’re encapsulated in a car bubble. There are the sounds of pick-up basketball games, stopping to chat with other cyclists at red lights, or passing by someone’s band practice in a rowhouse basement. However, the quality of your experience with that last example can vary greatly.
The great thing about Philly is that it is highly accessible by bike. With the increase of cyclists and with the addition of new bike lanes, it’s becoming much safer and easier to ride as your main transportation. For switching from four wheels to two, definitely don’t call it a downgrade.