Bike riders look to put their pedal to the medal(lion)

Taxis line up at 30th Street Station but what if someone had a bicycle? Credit: Charles Mostoller, Metro
Taxis line up at 30th Street Station, but what if someone had a bicycle? Credit: Charles Mostoller/Metro

Sometimes, a biker needs a ride.

Whether it’s fatigue, equipment malfunction or the rider simply had one too many cocktails at a local watering hole, the bicycle becomes a burden.

But where to turn? Some local outfits say they have a solution.

The city expects 150 new cabs to hit the streets in the next few years. And while the state legislature controls the taxi industry, the city council can demand the new vehicles meet certain requirements.

City Councilman David Oh plans to hold a hearing and gather some suggestions on what conditions to set. He’s thinking eco-friendly and handicap-accessible, as taxis are an extension of the public transit system, he said.

“We have a lot of people using scooters and bicycles and all that,” Oh said. “But you can’t really shop on your bike. So the thing is you might want to move into the city and use public transportation, and if you want to go shopping take a cab.”

Well, what if the cab had a bike rack? You could do both, right?

Most cabbies won’t allow a rider to shove his two-wheeler into the backseat or trunk. Everyone once in a while, a driver, like Ronald Blount, president of the Taxi Workers Alliance of Pennsylvania, will agree if the front tire comes off. But that’s not the norm.

“So that might not be a bad idea,” he said. “‘But I’ve just never personally seen it done before, and wouldn’t know how to do it.”

“I’ve never see that with the taxis in New York, Chicago, San Francisco,” he added. “Throughout my travels, I’ve never seen a taxi cab with a bike rack.”

Nicholas Mirra of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, said a bike rack would be a win “from a bicycle accessibility perspective and from cab drivers’ perspective.”

“Philly is such a bike-friendly city, a lot of people get to destination A on their bike,” he said. “To not worry about getting home and having the ability to just take a cab would certainly increase many cab fares.”

And, he added, Montreal cabs already have a similar system in place.

“So other cities have done it,” he said.

Quoted

“We would love to see the promotion of making it easier to travel across the city with your bike. Because if we’re going to reduce the pollution profile of the city, we do encourage mass transit and bike ridership, which is already some of the highest in the nation right now.”
— Andrew Sharp of PennFuture

What’s a medallion?

Cab contracts are called medallions. Investors buy these medallions from the state, which allows them to rent their cabs to drivers.

The most popular model cab is the Ford Crown Victoria, typically from the early ’00s.

Currently there are 150 medallions for sale, and Councilman Oh said an investment group wants all of them.

“We have a very low number of cabs in total and there has not been an increase since 1974,” Oh said.


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