SEPTA strike 2016: Rules and tips for new city cyclists and drivers

The routes and rules to be aware of.

A warning sign in Center City Philadelphia.

A warning sign in Center City Philadelphia.

Via Lulu Hoeller on Flickr

SEPTA’s on strike and that means two things are probably peaking: The amount of cyclists and the amount of road rage.

Last time SEPTA went on strike in 2009, the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia said biking in the city spiked by 38 percent. That increase could be even higher this time around, as biking has become a more popular option and the city’s bike share program is off the ground.

Meanwhile, traffic is highly congested, especially in Center City, and tempers are running high as commuters who usually depend on SEPTA have been relegated to taking their own cars into and out of the city or relying on Uber and Lyft to get them around. And that means things like this happen:


There are things both cyclists and drivers should know about how best to navigate the congestion to keep everyone using the roads safe. Here are some tips for both types of commuters:

For cyclists


What you’ll need


Shannon Wink/Billy Penn


Shannon Wink/Billy Penn


Shannon Wink/Billy Penn


Shannon Wink/Billy Penn

Tips for biking for the first time

The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia put together a really helpful guide for first-time cyclists. Some of the highlights:

Check your bike! Make sure that if you’re pulling that dusty bike out of your basement that you make sure everything is working correctly. Best way to do that if you’re not particularly, um, handy, is taking it to a local bike shop. Some are even holding SEPTA strike promotions:

Ride with more experienced cyclists. The Bike Coalition is hosting group rides on Wednesday, the second day of the SEPTA strike. Per the Coalition, riders will meet at the following locations at 8 a.m. and all rides will leave promptly at 8:15 a.m.:

  • West Philly: 48th and Spruce
  • Northwest: Lloyd Hall
  • East: 4th and Spring Garden
  • South: 13th and Washington

Try Indego. The city’s bike-sharing services is offering a reliable option while SEPTA is striking. (Be sure to bring your own helmet.) Indego will offer “surplus bike availability” at the following stations on Wednesday:

8 to 10 a.m. — Unlimited Bike Parking

  • 18th & JFK
  • Municipal Services Building
  • 36th & Sansom

5 to 7 p.m. — Unlimited Bike Parking

  • 23rd & South
  • 23rd & Fairmount
  • 4th & Christian

Riders should download the Indego app for real-time station updates as well as bike and dock availability before heading out.

The rules to follow

With tensions running high, best to be sure we’re all following the rules of the road. For cyclists, that means the following:

  • Stop at traffic signals
  • Use “turn signals,” AKA the bike hand motions that indicate you’re turning
  • Use accessories like a bell and lights to alert cars you’re close
  • Bike the same direction that car traffic is flowing and don’t bike the wrong way down a one-way street
  • Don’t bike on the sidewalk (it’s a sideWALK, not a sideRIDE)
  • This isn’t a rule, but more a very important tip that you really should follow: WEAR A HELMET!

The routes to take

There’s a lot to know about biking in the city, especially if this is your first go at it. Earlier this year, we put together a full list of some of our favorite routes into and out of Center City from neighborhoods across Philadelphia. Follow that link and you’ll find maps of the best routes to and from:

  • University City
  • West Philly and Cedar Park area
  • Fishtown/ Northern Libeties/ Kensington
  • Fairmount/ Art Museum
  • Brewerytown
  • South Philly east of Broad
  • South Philly west of Broad
  • Mt. Airy/ Chestnut Hill

For drivers

Traffic in Center City Philadelphia on Tuesday during the evening commute.

Traffic in Center City Philadelphia on Tuesday during the evening commute.

Drivers should be on alert for a higher concentration of cyclists and pedestrians as the SEPTA strike continues. Be sure to follow these rules:

  • Don’t drive with headphones in
  • Allow cyclists to take the entire lane when they need to
  • Avoid distracted driving by planning your route ahead of time and not looking at your phone while commuting
  • Check your mirrors when you pull over, change lanes, turn and open your door
  • Keep a safe distance between your motor vehicle and bikes, as demonstrated in this video:

Moral of the story for everyone?

Stay sane, Philly.

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