Cycle Philadelphia, Road Ride, University City Ride

Just over the bridge but worlds away, University City has a vibe all its own. Old Victorian homes mix with tiny ethnic restaurants and big shady trees, trolleys whizz by, and everyone always seems to be outdoors – whether it be college kids flooding the streets around Penn and Drexel, friends sipping coffee outside of Greenline Café, or families enjoying Clark Park – University City is one of the greenest, most inviting neighborhoods in Philadelphia.

Terrain

This route is all on road, taking advantage of the many bicycle lanes throughout University City and West Philadelphia. Be sure to watch out for the trolley tracks and cross them as close to 90 degrees as you can. There are a couple of baby hills along the way.

Traffic

You will be riding through University City — a distinctive part of town. Some of the streets, including 38th, 34th and Spruce will have a constant flow of traffic. Luckily, these roads also have bicycle lanes. Quiet side streets are sprinkled in lovingly.

Access

Take regional rail to the University City stop and pick up the Spruce Street bike lanes towards Clark Park on the corner of 43rd and Baltimore. Bus routes 42, 30, and 21 will bring you to University City.

Food and Drink

There are lots of options for food and drink along this route – visit one of the many fantastic Penn food trucks, or the restaurants along Sansom Row. You can also park your bike around 40th and Chestnut to choose from even more possibilities!

Side Trip

Stop by the Institute of Contemporary Art on the corner of 36th and Sansom. There are always interesting exhibits, and admission is free.

 

More Details

This bike ride is short on miles but big on flavor. You’ll start at Clark Park on 43rd and Baltimore and head north. Clark Park is a fun spot for people watching and a picnic; there are also lots of festivals here throughout the year and a farmer’s market in season. If you haven’t experienced them before, you will soon have your first encounter with trolley tracks.

They are uncomfortable – riding along side of them might cause worry that your front will get lodged in the track if you veer slightly, and crossing them can be intimidating without practice. When riding over tracks, make sure you hit them deliberately, and try to make as close to a right angle with your tires and the tracks as possible. After a while, this will become second nature. With trolley tracks under control, you’ll ride up 43rd Street and then have the option of turning down Chestnut or Ludlow.

Chestnut is very busy with traffic, but is also a fun street with shops and cafés. Comparatively, Ludlow (just a block north) is amazingly quiet. If you take Ludow, please note that there is a median in the middle of the left turn onto the 38th Street bike lanes, not a terrible hassle, but you’ll have to navigate accordingly.

After 38th Street, you’ll pedal down the Powelton Avenue bike lanes heading east through Powelton Village and eventually arriving at Drexel Park. There is a little known, and very excellent, view of the Philly skyline from this park. A portion of the East Coast Greenway travels up 32nd Street, which you will take in a roundabout way through the Drexel campus before picking up the 34th Street bike lanes. These lanes will take you through the heart of Penn’s campus (if you have a hankering for Middle Eastern food during the week before 4pm, visit the Magic Carpet food truck on the corner of 34th and Walnut – it’s a gem). After 34th Street, you’ll make a left onto the Spruce Street bike lanes and head back towards Clark Park.

If you have some more time and energy, then head a little bit farther west on the Baltimore Avenue bicycle lanes. There are more trolley tracks for you to contend with, but the area around 50th and Baltimore is awesome. 

 

Ride Log

  • 0.0 Start at Clark Park on the corner of 43rd St and Baltimore Ave. Head north on 43rd.
  • 0.1 Cross Pine St.
  • 0.5 Make a right on Ludlow. If you prefer a busier street, you can turn down Chestnut.
  • 1.0 Left on 38th St. Slightly annoying due to the median at Ludlow St.
  • 1.3 Right on Powelton Ave to ride through Powelton Village.
  • 1.8 Arrive at Drexel Park – check out the view and lie in the sun!
  • 2.0 When ready to leave, make a right on 32nd St to head south.
  • 2.2 Right on Arch St.
  • 2.4 Left on 34th St bike lanes. Ride through Penn’s campus.
  • 2.9 Right on Spruce St bike lanes.
  • 3.7 Make a left on 42nd St.
  • 3.8 Right on Baltimore Ave to arrive at Clark Park.
  • 4.0 Back at park and end of ride.
  • Trail map

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    6.375 km / 3.961 mi

    Total Distance

    63 m / 208 ft

    Total Ascent

    63 m / 208 ft

    Total Descent

    32 m / 105 ft

    Highest Point

    Ride type:
    Sightseeing
    Mountain biking
    Road riding
    Commuter
    Kid friendly
    Rail Trail
    Difficulty: Intermediate (Red)
    Ride Duration: <1 hr
    Fitness Level: Medium
    Terrain:
    Shared Bike Path - Paved
    Shared Bike Path - Dirt
    On-Road Bike Lane
    On-Road
    Off-Road - Fire Trail
    Off-Road - Rail Trail
    Off-Road - Single Track
    Off-Road - Downhill
    Mobile Coverage: Excellent
    Estimated Distance: 4.0
    Elevation Gain: 150
    Services:
    Water
    Food
    First Aid
    Toilets
    Bike hire facilities
    Carparking
    Bike servicing
    Accessible by bike
    Accessible by car
    Accessible by public transport
    Accessible by shuttle / uber

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