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  1. #1
    rain dog mainstreetexile's Avatar
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    Best bike neighborhoods in Philly?

    My girlfriend and I are currently on the west coast, but we have been thinking about moving back to the Pennsylvania to be closer to family.

    Does anyone have any recommendations for cool neighborhoods with good walkability / bikeability? We are a young-ish couple (31 and 30 y/o) and enjoy craft beer and going to shows. I have friends that have lived in Fishtown and Northern Liberties, just curious about what other good options are out there.

    Is there very much of a Philadelphia "bike scene", with social rides (not quite club/racing rides), events, and good bike shops?

  2. #2
    Senior Member jeneralist's Avatar
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    I'm not sure that Manayunk is the best, but it's certainly good. Two bike shops on the main street (which, easily enough, is named "Main Street"), and along the Schuylkill River Trail connecting Valley Forge to the Art Museum (30 miles). Site of a big bike race every year. (Search for "Manayunk bike race" and you'll find lots of videos; http://www.csnphilly.com/article/rid...ycling-classic is a sample.) On fair-weather weekends, bikes may outnumber cars on Main Street. Lots of restaurants and bars; it's a neighborhood where college students party on the weekends.

    And it's built into the side of a pretty steep hill. You can decide for yourself whether that's good or bad.
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  3. #3
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    NoLibs and Fishtown are hipster city. Lots of gastro pubs and other places to eat and drink. Fairmount & Spring Garden are also good places to live if you plan to get around by bike, and they are right next to Fairmount Park and the trail around the river. Lots of younger people have also moved to various areas of south Philly after being priced out of those other places. University City is also nice, but a bit removed from center city and the surrounding hipper 'hoods. You also have to deal with the students when U. Penn is in session. The flip side to that is that there are a lot of security patrols in the area.

    NoLibs has Trophy Bikes, which caters more to the commuter/fixie/touring crowd.

    Fairmount/Spring Garden have two relatively new bike shops, including one (Philadelphia Bikesmiths) owned by one of the best mechanics in the city.

    There is not much of a collective, touchy-feely bike scene. The Bicycle Club of Philly offers various levels of social club rides, including slower ones.

  4. #4
    rain dog mainstreetexile's Avatar
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    Thanks for the advice jeneralist and indyfabz. We were actually thinking of Manayunk before, but some friends had steered us away from it. Based on your advice, it sounds like it could work for us. I might not mind being a little further out with the option to ride our bikes or take the train in.

    My girlfriend may be going back to school at Drexel, so Manayunk, Fairmount and Spring Garden (along with, obviously, University City) all look pretty convenient based on distances on the map and the marked bike lanes/routes on google maps.

    I remember Fishtown being moderately safe, with less safe blocks sprinkled throughout. I'm guessing Fairmount, Spring Garden and University City see less crime?

    The Schuylkill river path seems like an appealing way to get out of the city for a ride. I've read about some issues with crime on the path, mainly further north in the Norristown area, is that still a problem? Would there be any problems commuting to Drexel from Manayunk on the western SRT early in the morning or later at night?

    Are there any other popular scenic routes/rides for getting out of the city?

  5. #5
    Senior Member jeneralist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mainstreetexile View Post
    The Schuylkill river path seems like an appealing way to get out of the city for a ride. I've read about some issues with crime on the path, mainly further north in the Norristown area, is that still a problem? Would there be any problems commuting to Drexel from Manayunk on the western SRT early in the morning or later at night?
    Where the SRT parallels Main Street in Manayunk, the trail is mostly boardwalk with sections of gravel. It can be messy after a rainstorm. Continuing through Manayunk towards Center City, the trail has a "missing" section. Riders are directed onto Main Street, which is marked with sharrows. That works ok until you get to the Wissahickon Transfer station: there, riders coming away from the city who had been on a protected multi-user path have a choice to either 1) ride on the street through a very nasty intersection or 2) ride on the sidewalk for a block or two. The SRT gets its own protected pavement again just to east of Wissahickon station.

    For the rest of the ride into the city, the biggest problem on the SRT is traffic: it has its own rush hour! Heading to the city in the morning isn't too bad, but on the way home commuting riders will encounter joggers, rollerbladers, parents pushing baby strollers, and folks who walk two or three abreast as they amble along the path on a lovely evening. (Can you tell that I sometimes commute to University City from Manayunk? I've started taking the path on the west side of the Schuylkill, along Martin Luther King Blvd, to avoid rush hour.)
    - Jeneralist

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  6. #6
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    Fishtown has undergone a good deal of transformation over the years, as has NoLibs. It still has its rougher spots, as do most neighborhoods. Spring Garden and Fairmount provide easier bike access to other parts of the city.

    I would not live in Manayunk. Too many young knotheads. The traffic on Main St. and the surrounding narrow streets can bed miserable. Main St. can be horrible during nice spring/summer/fall weekends. And good luck if you are on one of those hills and it's snowy and/or icy.

    Powelton Village near Drexel is close to Mantua, which is not a nice place. The other problem with Powelton Village is the lack of services. The nearest real grocery store is probably 40th & Walnut. It's sad to see so many of those once beautiful houses converted to cheap student housing.

    There have been waves of problems on the trail in Norristown off and on. Some of them were real. The climate of fear many people live in produced cautions that I think were imagined. "I saw a black guy on the trail. He must have been there to commit a crime." One person actually suggested to me that people call the cops every any time they saw a minority on the trail. I am not making that up. Another person opined that you could tell who did not belong on the trail--people without bikes. What this person failed to understand is that it's a linear park that is open to the public. It's not merely a bike trail.

  7. #7
    spondylitis.org kunsunoke's Avatar
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    http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/...138097778.html

    Boys Attack Cyclist Who Fights Back, Kills 1.

    Man was justified in shooting after being attacked along Berks County trail, officials say


    By Dan Stamm

    | Thursday, Jan 26, 2012 | Updated 11:57 PM EDT

    A 65-year-old man riding his bicycle along a Berks County trail became the target of three teenage boys looking to allegedly mug him Wednesday morning, according to authorities.
    In a matter of moments the teens became the target of the cyclist, according to Cumru Township Police.


    The three teens had cut school and were set on robbing people -- having already attacked two elderly men -- when they came upon the 65-year-old riding on the Thun Trail, according to Berks County District Attorney John T. Adams.


    The cyclist was near the Bertolet Fishing Dock at S First Avenue and Chestnut Street in West Reading, Pa. around 11 a.m. when one of the teens knocked the man down, police said.

    Adams picks it up from here:


    "One of the juveniles punched the bike rider in the face, knocking him off his bike. Julius Johnson ran up to bike rider and kicked him."

    That was when the 65-year-old pulled a *** and shot, officials said.


    Johnson, 16, died at the scene while his 15-year-old alleged accomplice was taken to the hospital with a gunshot wound, officials said.


    Johnson had a criminal record and was on probation at the time of the incident. He was even on electronic monitoring, officials said.


    The third boy, also 15, was arrested and cooperating, police said. He is charged with assault and robbery. The hospitalized boy could face similar charges, according to authorities.

    But there would be no charges filed against the shooter, officials said.


    "Well I do not condone violence, the bike rider had no choice," Adams said.



    The 65-year-old cooperated with police after the shooting. "He stayed right at the scene and did what was asked of him by the police department -- he cooperated fully with the police, Adams said.


    FYI - the Thun Trail is an extension of the Schuylkill River trail which connects with the Union Canal Path and a few other regional trails. It's notorious for robberies, beatings, murders, etc. within reach of the Reading city limits, which is why the biker was packing heat.

    IMO you would be wise to do something similar in Philadelphia, particularly if you choose to ride in some of the more trouble-prone sections of the city.

    The Philadelphia PD won't protect you or your bikes.

  8. #8
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by kunsunoke View Post
    IMO you would be wise to do something similar in Philadelphia, particularly if you choose to ride in some of the more trouble-prone sections of the city.
    Stop spreading irrational fear. Those of us who actually live in the city and who actually incoporate cyling into their daily lifestyles know what a pleasure it is and how low-risk it is from a crime perspective. The biggest common threats we face are from motorists. One only need to look at the number of cyclists injured and killed by cars than in attacks of the nature you describe.

    Let's hope you don't come to the city and end up shooting an innocent bystander or get into some road rage incident and shoot at someone like that fine, upstanding citizen did on U.S. 422 a few years ago. Although to his credit he had the courtesy to blow his own brains out shortly thereafter. Society doesn't need people like him.

  9. #9
    spondylitis.org kunsunoke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
    Stop spreading irrational fear.
    There's nothing irrational about carrying concealed in high-crime areas of a city, particularly when doing so is perfectly legal - as in Philly.

    Also, Philadelphia and Reading have crime problems. Fairly obvious ones, in fact.

    http://os.cqpress.com/citycrime/2012...sFactSheet.pdf

    Those of us who actually live in the city and who actually incoporate cyling into their daily lifestyles know what a pleasure it is and how low-risk it is from a crime perspective. The biggest common threats we face are from motorists. One only need to look at the number of cyclists injured and killed by cars than in attacks of the nature you describe.
    My apologies to you if you are employed by the Nutter Administration, but the crime rates in Philadelphia are what they are. I don't necessarily discount your experiences, but I am also cognizant of the fact that you may reside in Penn's Landing, or Old City, or that you may cycle through Center City or the Northeast - as opposed to North Philadelphia on a daily basis.

    Let's hope you don't come to the city and end up shooting an innocent bystander
    You're projecting your own fears about inanimate objects onto groups of people you know nothing about.

    or get into some road rage incident and shoot at someone like that fine, upstanding citizen did on U.S. 422 a few years ago.
    Are you suggesting it is more moral to be a victim?

    Perhaps the sixty-five-something cyclist on the Thun Trail would have higher moral standing with you had he been victimized and/or killed.

    Although to his credit he had the courtesy to blow his own brains out shortly thereafter. Society doesn't need people like him.
    And yet one's odds of encountering "people like him" are so much higher in Philadelphia relative to the surrounding suburbs (where population is lower).

    So why is riding with a concealed weapon in an urban area a bad idea?

  10. #10
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by kunsunoke View Post
    There's nothing irrational about carrying concealed in high-crime areas of a city, particularly when doing so is perfectly legal - as in Philly.

    Also, Philadelphia and Reading have crime problems. Fairly obvious ones, in fact.

    http://os.cqpress.com/citycrime/2012...sFactSheet.pdf



    My apologies to you if you are employed by the Nutter Administration, but the crime rates in Philadelphia are what they are. I don't necessarily discount your experiences, but I am also cognizant of the fact that you may reside in Penn's Landing, or Old City, or that you may cycle through Center City or the Northeast - as opposed to North Philadelphia on a daily basis.



    You're projecting your own fears about inanimate objects onto groups of people you know nothing about.



    Are you suggesting it is more moral to be a victim?

    Perhaps the sixty-five-something cyclist on the Thun Trail would have higher moral standing with you had he been victimized and/or killed.



    And yet one's odds of encountering "people like him" are so much higher in Philadelphia relative to the surrounding suburbs (where population is lower).

    So why is riding with a concealed weapon in an urban area a bad idea?
    Actually, I am a 4%-er who works in private industry and who can't stand Nutter. Sorry to shatter your delusions. The simple fact of the matter is that your chances of becoming a victim of violent crime are very slight unless you are involved in crime yourself. Finally, look above your head. That thing passing over you is my point about the road rage incident. Please stay where you are. I and others in the city don't want your kind here.

    P.S. Where did I say it was irrational to carry? I didn't. I said that your obvious belief that the average, law-abiding citizen is likely to be a victim of violent crime is simply not supported by facts. Your fear and anger clearly interfere with your reading and reasoning capabilities.

  11. #11
    spondylitis.org kunsunoke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
    Actually, I am a 4%-er who works in private industry and who can't stand Nutter. Sorry to shatter your delusions.
    One of us suggested that the mere presence of an inanimate object turns suburbanites into homicidal maniacs. The other suggested that concealed carry in crime-prone areas is a good idea (and it was an opinion, to be taken or left).

    Which of the two statements qualifies as deluded?

    Also - my empirical observation has been that there are quite a few in the top four percent who support this current mayor. He's only been a slight improvement over his corrupt predecessor.


    The simple fact of the matter is that your chances of becoming a victim of violent crime are very slight unless you are involved in crime yourself.
    What do the current violent crime statistics for Philadelphia suggest?

    What do these empirical examples suggest about cycling in the city?

    http://articles.philly.com/2009-09-0...mob-scene-hood

    http://articles.philly.com/2011-08-1...-black-eye-emt

    http://www.philly.com/philly/news/Yo..._S_Philly.html

    The victims don't appear to have been criminals, and the neighborhoods don't appear to have been particularly grungy.

    Philadelphia, like any large US city, has its share of miscreants running around. It's inevitable anyplace large quantities of idle ne'er-do-wells congregate for government entitlements. Happens in Reading, too, as that first link I posted attests.


    Finally, look above your head. That thing passing over you is my point about the road rage incident.
    No, I understood your point. I just found it to be knee-jerked and cliched.

    When was the last time a suburbanite came into the city to shoot the place up?

    Most of the violence is home-grown. As is most of the road-rage - which you seem to think never happens in Philadelphia.

    http://abclocal.go.com/wpvi/story?se...cal&id=9169596

    http://abclocal.go.com/wpvi/story?se...cal&id=9043248

    http://abclocal.go.com/wpvi/story?se...cal&id=8981770

    http://abclocal.go.com/wpvi/story?se...cal&id=8770014


    Please stay where you are. I and others in the city don't want your kind here.
    That's been Mayor Nutter's approach as well. It's why me and "my kind" spend our cash elsewhere.


    P.S. Where did I say it was irrational to carry? I didn't.
    You said I was spreading irrational fear. I said that concealed carry was a perfectly rational response to crime, which Philadelphia and Reading have problems with. Your response to that was a cliche based on irrational fear you have of legal *** ownership.

    I thought hipsters were masters of irony.


    I said that your obvious belief that the average, law-abiding citizen is likely to be a victim of violent crime is simply not supported by facts.
    Perhaps you'd care to post some of those facts, then.


    Your fear and anger clearly interfere with your reading and reasoning capabilities.
    No, rather, you're the one projecting your own irrational fears and anger onto me. I only stated that concealed carry on bicycle was a rational choice for those cycling in the city, due to its high rate of violent crime (which I posited proof of).

    If you have "accurate information" or "sound advice", perhaps you ought to post it openly.
    Last edited by kunsunoke; 10-04-13 at 07:55 AM.

  12. #12
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    OP: Send me a PM if you would like some accurate information and sound advice.

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