Above the Fold: Sophisticated technology and inspired employees power a laundry revolution

Story by Molly O'Neill l Photos by Albert Yee ON A BRISK FRIDAY AFTERNOON, Gabriel Mandujano parks his bicycle and enters a large, clean laundromat at 48th and Pine. Three women in neon green Wash Cycle Laundry t-shirts greet him enthusiastically, though their hands never stop sorting socks and folding sheets. He checks in with each employee, taking a moment to help fold while he talks, then walks into a back room, where a computer system is tracking bags of clothing and linens from pickup to delivery. He stops briefly to answer a phone call then hops back on his bike to continue his rounds to two other facilities. After that, it’s back to the office at 17th and Arch to handle paperwork, bookkeeping and the other facets of a blossoming small business.
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Fast Track: 13th Street bike lane to become a permanent resident

 

Image via the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia

Good news, cyclists, the 13th Street bike lane is here to stay! The pilot period is coming to an end, and the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities (MOTU) has decided to install a permanent lane within the next few weeks. The lane will stretch from South Street to Hamilton, with plans to extend it to Spring Garden Street after the section of road is resurfaced in 2012.

The MOTU report found that of all the cities with populations more than one million, Philadelphia has the most bike commuters. And yet there are hardly any bike lanes in Center City. MOTU is hard at work to change that. In 2009, they conducted a pilot test of east-west running bike lanes on Spruce and Pine Streets, and in the winter of 2010 they began planning for the north-southbound pilot lanes now in place on 10th and 13th streets.

The study reported that since the installation of the pilot lanes, bicycle traffic has increased without any major affect on vehicle traffic. Data also shows that the bike lanes have reduced car accidents and the number of pedestrians hit by cars along the 13th Street route, while encouraging much safer biking practices (keeping bikers off the sidewalks, for example, and travelling in the direction of traffic instead of against the grain). The 10th Street route is still in the evaluation process. 

View the complete evaluation report here.

For a map of bike lanes, hazards, member-submitted commuter routes and other bike-related tidbits, check out the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia website.

- Anna Louise Neiger

Never Too Late to Learn

In a city as bike-crazy as Philadelphia, even occasional riders take for granted that everyone knows how to ride a bike. But just as there are many people who never suited up for swim lessons, there are many adults—myself included—who never wobbled their way off training wheels. If you never felt the urge to learn, thought it was impossible, or feel a bit rusty in the saddle, REI stores in Conshohocken and Marlton, N.J. host a stress-free way to get your wheels turning. The outdoor outfitter’s How to Ride a Bike Class instructors teach adults and families how to get comfortable balancing, starting and stopping smoothly, adjusting a bike to your size, and effective falling, all in one four-hour class. Biking is one of the most environmentally friendly modes of transport, and with just a few hours of skill-building, you can be one step closer to independence from your automobile. Whether you plan on bicycle commuting, mountain biking or just cruising around the neighborhood, this class will help get you there. - Allison Bart

How to Ride a Bike classes, ongoing, $45-$65. Visit rei.com/class/121/market/200 to register.

NBW Goes to Washington

Last summer marked the first ever Ride of Dreams, a 240-mile bike ride from West Philadelphia to the state capital in Harrisburg and back to raise funds for Neighborhood Bike Works (NBW), the Philly-based nonprofit that teaches urban youth the benefits and joy of cycling. This year, NBW will ride from Pennsylvania to Pennsylvania Avenue; the second annual ride will commence on July 22, kicking off at NBW’s headquarters and rolling down to Washington, D.C., where riders will celebrate their successful journey on the steps of the U.S. Capitol Building on July 24.

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Pedal Pushers: Female cyclists are the key to Philly’s bicycular future. Here’s why—and how to get the spoke-averse in the saddle.

Philadelphia needs to get more women on bicycles, and not just because we look so fine in Lycra.

The biology term “indicator species” is often used to describe female cyclists in urban areas. If the environment is suitable, a 2009 article in Scientific American argues, then the population will flourish. Though it sounds kinda clinical, it’s really just a way of saying women are perhaps the most important demographic for transforming a city with a cycling subculture into one with a cycling-centric city transport ecosystem. Why is that? Essentially, since women are generally more risk-averse than men, women will ride more often only as the perception of safety increases.

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