The bicycle may be a fad for some and a tried-and-true transit option for others, but how cities are reacting to its increasing popularity has been interesting to watch. New York and Los Angeles have faced opposition to their addition of bicycle lanes on already-clogged streets; Paris and London have become globally renowned for their rental programs; many other cities have been criticized for not doing enough, especially after decades of automobile domination.
Philadelphia has quietly become the American city with more bicycle ridership than any other. The same stories listed above have played out on streets here, but a new report in the Philadelphia Inquirer shows progressive building developers eyeing the two-wheeled transport as a way to attract affluent customers.
Architecture critic Inga Saffron writes about Carl Dranoff in her regular column:
Best known for glitzy apartment buildings like Symphony House and 777 South Broad, the developer has become the unlikeliest bike advocate in Philadelphia. All his buildings are outfitted with pristine bike-storage rooms, where residents are assigned individual ceiling hooks to hang their Fuji mountain bikes and Gunnar roadies. He thinks office landlords should offer the same amenity to their tenants, and predicts the smart ones will do so within the next 10 years - ideally sooner.
Inspired by the uneven, narrow but bicycle-filled streets of Rome, Dranoff recently kicked off a complimentary bike-share program at his five rental buildings. (The city has not yet implemented its own program.) It cost him $25,000, but that's pocket change compared to the sale of just one more unit.
Until now, most people have looked to the public sector to bring bicycles back to streets. Here's an interesting example of the private sector getting in on the action.
Changing Skyline: Developer shares his liking for biking [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Photo: Night Owl Graphics, which designed the bicycle livery.