Local bike shops keep Philly cyclists, commuters and joyriders on the move

Let it Ride

by Emily Kovach
photos by Gene Smirnov

Human Zoom Bikes & Boards

MANAGER: Stanley Tworek
NEIGHBORHOOD: Manayunk and Ardmore
VIBE: Big like a chain, cool like an indie. “We have our tattoos and piercings, but we’re getting a little more clean-cut.”
REPAIR, RENT OR RETAIL: All three are available
UNDERLYING VALUES: Service to all. “I just finished working on a really nice Italian Bianchi, and my next job will be a bike from Target. That’s what keeps us going and relevant.”

Philadelphia Bikesmith

OWNERS: Max Hamalainen (L), Lucas Drecksage (R) and Richie Cortez
VIBE: Go, team, go! Daily huddle ups and frequent meetings are the norm. “We don’t have interns, we don’t have junior employees... we have professionals.”
REPAIR, RENT OR RETAIL: Repair and retail
UNDERLYING VALUES: Empathy and equality. “A bike shop is not just a place for men and boys... We ask our staff to treat everyone in our shop the same.”


Kater Street Bicycles

OWNER: Joe Lambros
OPENED: 2011
NEIGHBORHOOD: Graduate Hospital
VIBE: Commuters, you have a friend. “Our customers are working class... we don’t usually get the people on pro bikes. It’s more Kmart bikes, or used stuff they buy around here.”
UNDERLYING VALUES: Honesty. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. “People always think they have bike problems that they don’t actually!”

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

Connecting the Dots: Expanding lanes and trails is part of a grand design.

“How can we all coexist on these very skinny streets?” asks Rina Cutler, Philadelphia’s deputy mayor for transportation and utilities. “We don’t have room to add more, so we have to make better use of the streets. For me, it’s less about biking, [and more about] creating complete streets and giving people choices.”

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