Shelly Salamon opened her shop Fairmount Bicycles in 2010. We talked with her about her latest venture, Philly Bike Tour Co., which as its name implies offers group bike tours of Philadelphia.
What made you decide to offer bike tours of the city?
I ended up on a guided bike tour in Chicago about five years ago and absolutely loved it. I was able to go to neighborhoods I never would have been to otherwise. Plus, our guide was awesome and I learned some neat stuff about Chicago, most of which I’ve forgotten by now, of course.
What makes bike tours different (better) than walking or bus tours?
Well, in my biased opinion, it’s the perfect combination of the two. You get to cover as much or more ground as you would on a bus, but you get to really stop and smell the roses (or whatever Philly smells like) as you would on foot. And getting a little exercise while you’re doing something fun is always a bonus.
Are your tours more designed for city residents, visitors, or both?
Both! We have four tour guides right now, all of which have different interests and knowledge about Philadelphia and its history. One of the best parts for me about starting this company is that I get to go on everyone else’s tours! I’m a Philly resident, I love history, and I have learned something different on every tour. The Classic City tour is great for tourists who are only going to do one tour and want to make sure to see all the classic touristy sites.
I see there are some Coming Soon tours listed on the phillybiketours.com website? Are there any other tours you would like to offer?
Absolutely. Scott Maits, one of our guides, has about eight tours in total! He is a history buff, and each of his routes cover the history of different neighborhoods. So, he has tours of South Philly, Southwest Philly, University City, etc. We also want to do some food tours.
Will your tours go all winter? How many of the tours will be offered all year, and when will the tours or the full tour schedule pick up in the spring?
We will keep the schedule up year-round. If someone books a tour and they want to go, we’ll go!
What are some of your favorite tours that you have taken in other cities?
This summer, I took a Hoods – Hidden Gems tour with Fitz – Follwell in Montreal, which was awesome. Our guide was a Montreal native and he just had so many fun facts about the city. Over the winter, I met with some other guides and we all took a tour in Atlanta, Georgia with Bicycle Tours of Atlanta. I had no idea Atlanta was a bikeable city, but it was really great!
Philly has so much history and it’s totally bikeable. We have smaller streets with little traffic and bigger streets with bike lanes. Most Philly drivers don’t mind sharing the road. Especially when traveling in a little group with other cyclists, I’ve found drivers to be pretty respectful. For tourists, it’s great to go to Philly to check out the art museum and go to the Liberty Bell, but what if along the way, you also saw places where The Sixth Sense, 12 Monkeys, and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia were filmed? Or saw where the first lager in America was brewed? There are just so many neat things about Philly, and bikes are a great way to easily navigate the city.