Rendering of what a pedal-powered popemobile could look like

The week of Pope Francis’ visit to Philadelphia is finally here. With no cars allowed to drive in or out of much of Center City, and with public transit operating on a semi-restricted schedule, bicycles are a great fallback for getting around.

But what are the rules and where can you go? Can you lock your bike up outside without fear it will be taken away? Will Indego stations be open? Can you bike over the Ben Franklin Bridge? What about on the Schuylkill River Trail? Find all the answers below.

Am I allowed to bike into the traffic box?

Yes. You can bicycle freely into (and out of) the traffic box (aka “Francis Festival Zone”) as you wish. There are no checkpoints and no restrictions on what streets you can use, except those blocked off by the secure perimeters (see below).

Am I allowed to bring bikes inside the secure perimeter?

No. There is no bicycling whatsoever allowed inside the “pope fence” — the secure perimeters set up by the Secret Service. Around the Ben Franklin Parkway, the perimeter goes into effect 10 PM Thursday and lasts through some point on Monday. Around Independence Hall, the perimeter also goes into effect 10 PM Thursday, but ends much earlier, at 6 PM Saturday.

No bicycles will be allowed through the magnetometers set up at the perimeter entrance checkpoints, and if your bicycle is already inside, you are not allowed to ride it there.

This does cut off large swaths of Center City to bicycles. The Parkway perimeter extends southeast to the middle of Midtown Village (12th & Sansom is the furthermost corner). It skirts across the top of Rittenhouse, carving west on Sansom to 17th and then jogging north on 18th. The northwestern corner is behind the Art Museum, and it zigzags down through Fairmount to eventually cross Broad at Vine.

The Independence Hall perimeter extends from 12th to 3rd, and reaches as far south as Manning — it encompasses Washington Square. It cuts through the heart of Chinatown and pokes up just north of Vine.

Upshot: On Friday and Saturday, the only place to cross Market Street with a bicycle will be at the very eastern edge of the city, on Front, Second or Columbus Blvd.

Can I ride the Schuylkill River Trail?

Not the whole thing. The part of the trail from Cherry Street to behind the Art Museum is inside the secure perimeter, so if you’re interested in getting to Kelly Drive, you’ll have to take the (very) long route around.

Can I lock my bicycle to a bike stand inside the traffic box (and leave it there overnight)?

Yes. Earlier this month, the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities did a sweep of all abandoned bikes left locked to posts for more than two weeks, but that sweep is over.

The office confirmed to Billy Penn that the city will not be removing bicycles locked overnight inside the traffic box. The Secret Service also confirmed it will not be removing locked bicycles outside the secure perimeters.

A MOTU representative did say: “If your bike disappears, it’s not the city, but park at your own risk.” Common sense in play, here; there will be lots of people milling about, so the risk of bike theft may be high.

Can I use Indego bike share?

Yes. Note that Indego is adjusting its service and 15 Center City corrals will be closed from Thursday night to Sunday night.

From Friday morning to Sunday night, four corrals will have extra service, with staff on hand to answer questions and ensure bicycles are always available. These are your best bets to find bikes within the traffic box:

  • Rittenhouse Square Station (19th & Walnut): Staffed Fri. 8 AM-8 PM, Sat. & Sun 8 AM-11 PM
  • Foglietta Plaza Station (Front & Dock): Staffed Fri. 8 AM-8 PM, Sat. & Sun 8 AM-11 PM
  • 30th Street Station Station (30th & Market): Staffed Sat. & Sun 8 AM-11 PM
  • Broad & Spring Garden Station: Staffed Sat. & Sun 8 AM-11 PM

The 15 closed Indego corrals are:

  • Philadelphia Museum of Art
  • Rodin Museum
  • 21st & Winter
  • Free Library of Philadelphia
  • Municipal Services Building Plaza
  • Independence Mall
  • 6th & Race
  • 18th & JFK
  • 19th & Market
  • 23rd & Market
  • Convention Center
  • 8th & Market
  • 4th & Walnut
  • 2nd & Market
  • 12th & Filbert

All other stations will be operating normally with 24-hour self-service. Here’s a map that shows all of this.

Can I bike over the Ben Franklin Bridge?

Depends on the day. Until the bridge closes to all vehicular traffic on Friday at 10 PM, bicyclists can cross the bridge normally (riding on the path).

On Saturday at 6 AM, the bridge will reopen to pedestrian traffic — bicycles are welcome, but they must be walked, not ridden.

The walked-bikes-only rule stays in effect until some time on Monday (DRPA estimates noon), when the bridge will reopen to regular vehicular traffic.

Can I bring my bike on SEPTA?

Bicycles will be allowed on SEPTA buses (although there are several route detours). On Saturday and Sunday, no bicycles are allowed on SEPTA trains or trolleys.

Can I bring my bike on PATCO/NJ TRANSIT?

No bicycles on PATCO on Saturday or Sunday.

No bicycles on NJ TRANSIT Atlantic City line or buses to and from Camden from Thursday to Sunday.

No bicycles on the NJ TRANSIT RiverLINE or the Riverlink Ferry on Saturday or Sunday.


Info on organized bike rides (there is a Pope Ride on Saturday morning at 10 AM) and open bike shops can be found at the Bicycle Coalition’s pope map page.

Danya Henninger was first editor and then editor/director of Billy Penn at WHYY from 2019 to 2023.