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Philadelphia cyclists are showing the true potential of pedal power — and the University is encouraging this trend on campus as well.

According to the The U.S. Census Bureau’s 2008 American Community Survey, Philadelphia ranked first among the 10 largest American cities for bicycle commuters. While 0.55 percent of commuters ride bikes to work nationwide, this figure is 1.6 percent in Philadelphia — almost three times as high.

Philadelphia’s percentage of bicycle commuters is higher than that of New York, Los Angeles and Chicago — the three largest cities in the country.

The study also found that between 2005 and 2008 bicycle commuting in the city saw an increase of 97 percent, and surrounding counties also saw significant gains in bike commuting, according to a press release from the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia.

The Coalition’s 2008 report saw similar statistics, such as a doubling in the number of riders who cross the Schuylkill River bridges on bikes.

On this side of the Schuylkill, Penn is doing its part to encourage bicycle ridership.

Environmental Sustainability coordinator Dan Garofalo pointed to a number of initiatives Penn is taking to make biking to and from campus, as well as around campus, an attractive alternative to driving.

The University has added several new bike racks so riders can securely lock their bikes. Garofalo, who commutes to campus on his bike, said the covered bike racks in parking garages have become very popular.

New racks are also strategically placed in well-lit and camera-monitored spaces to deter theft wherever possible by making the bikes “look unattractive” to thieves, he said.

The University is also subtly urging bikers to stay off of the crowded Locust Walk.

The newly repaved 36th and 37th street walks have added bike racks closer to the street to encourage riders to park their bikes and walk through campus.

The Division of Public Safety also held its Share the Road awareness event last month to teach bicyclists and drivers alike about rules and regulations.

According to some, though, the popularity of biking in Philadelphia and on campus may just be a reflection of students and citizens rather than specifically because of the University’s initiatives.

“People who bike are going to bike no matter what,” said College junior Kevin Schreiber, who rides his bike regularly.

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