Favorite Spot: Biking 18th Street
Neighborhood: primarily South Philly/Point Breeze
Address: Passyunk to the Parkway
I am: Over-analytic, coffee-shop-hopping homebody techie/journalist/organizer.
Years in Philly: 7
Current Home: Point Breeze/not Newbold
My love note: Philly is a very passionate city. I like to yell, and I like living in a place where openly expressing anger and disapproval is a pretty major part of the culture of the city. It’s part of what can make biking so cathartic. Undoubtedly, some driver turns right in front of you without a signal almost killing you, and it’s totally appropriate to chastise that person for all within earshot to hear.
But, sometimes, it’s nice to bike without the fear of death and battle for the road with buses and bonehead drivers. The expansion of bike lanes helps a lot in that regard, but they bring about their own stress of joggers who think they are bikes and drivers that think they found a new parking lane. The real trick is finding streets that are not heavily populated, not on a bus route, but still pretty centrally located. 18th Street is that kinda block. Not only is it lightly traveled by cars, but the cars that do take that route seem pretty used to bikes and don’t hesitantly follow you for blocks or gun it to pass you.
Without the need to constantly be muttering “please don’t kill me” to the buses and cabs fighting for space on the road, it’s possible to, you know, enjoy what it means to bike in a city. Right off 18th and Passyunk is Ms. Rachel’s Pantry, a super-cute, super-friendly, super-super vegan food spot (with supper on Saturdays). It’s a great place to pick up a take-home meal before heading north past rowhomes, corner shops, and gentrification-station American Sardine Bar.
Rather than heading west on Washington, continue north past the field of the storied Marian Anderson Rec Center. If it’s the right time of day, you’ll bike past kids walking to or from neighborhood anchor, E.M. Stanton Elementary. Heading into Center City you can connect with the cross town bike lanes or breeze by Rittenhouse Square on the way to the new Sister Cities Park on the parkway, which features its own cafe. Pick up an apple cider donut from Milk and Honey and wander over to the library, or just sit back and reflect on the many incarnations of Philly you just biked through, and were able to actually take in and enjoy, given a brief respite from fighting to take the lane.