I liked Philadelphia as soon as I came to Temple University. I was excited to explore the city and see all that it had to offer. But it wasn’t until I brought my bike to campus during the spring semester of my freshman year that I truly fell in love with the city.
Riding a bicycle through Philly provides a whole new way to get to know the city that all students should experience. Navigating the streets of cars and people forces you to learn the geography of the city, and it’s a great way to uncover hidden gems that could be missed via car, bus or subway.
During my first semester, I rode public transportation to visit spots like Chinatown, Independence Hall, Rittenhouse Square and University City. When I brought my bike to school and went on my first ride — to Chinatown, then Independence Hall, then west on Walnut Street all the way through Rittenhouse Square and over the Schuylkill River to University City — I realized how much I’d been missing.
When I’m riding the bus or subway, I miss a lot of scenery in between my starting point and my destination. I can’t slow down to admire a nestled alleyway or a small, detailed mural. I appreciated my journey so much more when I rode my bike.
There are so many more accessible places to visit when you’re on a bike. My thoughts about public transit were Broad Street Line-centric, and that mindset really limited the places I could visit.
Ricky Coyne, a sophomore economics major, works in the Office of Sustainability as the coordinator of Bike Temple, a program that promotes biking and bike safety.
“It’s the best way to actually see the city,” Coyne said. “I want more people to experience the joy of riding.”
To do this, Coyne has pioneered Bike Temple’s group rides, which happen every Sunday morning when the weather allows them. Future ride destinations include Bartram’s Garden, Fairmount Park and Laurel Hill Cemetery. The only requirements to participate are a bike and a helmet.
“[The rides] are no-drop, so we don’t leave anyone behind,” Coyne said. “We go as slow as the slowest person wants to go.”
In addition to leisure, biking provides an efficient way to get where you need to go. Public transportation requires waiting to board and waiting at stops, and the city’s traffic entails constant stop and go.
I work at Temple University Center City. It took me one day of taking the subway to realize I couldn’t rely on public transportation to get to work on time. Now, it only takes me 15 minutes to get there by bike. That’s half the time it took by subway. Not to mention, I save $4 each time I bike to work instead of taking the subway.
Kakada Tuot, a freshman information science and technology major, lives off campus and rides his bike to and from class each day. He often travels to places like Fairmount Park often and finds that biking saves him a lot of money.
Tuot said students will save $25 a week by choosing to bike to class instead of riding the subway. He appreciates biking not only for the savings, but also because it keeps him active.
“Say you don’t feel like working out,” Tuot said. “Then there you go, there’s your workout.”
A lot of students want to reap the benefits of biking but may be hesitant to bike through the city. That’s understandable, because pedestrians and cyclists represented 45 percent of traffic deaths in Philadelphia in 2017, according to the Bicycle Coalition. When I first brought my bike to school, I was a little nervous to ride in a large, busy place.
Coyne said he wants to ease these concerns by teaching students to bike smartly so they can enjoy riding.
Main Campus is a welcoming environment for bikers, and the university has a large presence of riders. Best College Values, an online resource that helps students choose schools and learn how to finance their education, ranked Temple No. 4 on its list of the top 40 bike-friendly campuses. The list is based on “cycling options, bike paths, free/value of biking…and embracing cyclists at all ability levels.”
I’ve come to learn that riding around campus and through the city is a great way to experience new things. You’re missing out if you don’t give it a try.