Thursday, June 9, 2016

Mañana, mañana




Last spring assaults on the Schuylkill River Trail in Philadelphia reached a point where they were being posted on Facebook. Most them fit a standard profile, groups of black children on BMX bikes harassing and groping women runners.

The Philadelphia Police Department appeared mystified as to why these incidents went largely unreported. This was often due to a number of factors; 911 operators who were unable to locate the SRT within their system to dispatch the police, the incidents happened so fast that victims did not know what to do, and the police who have have crimes with higher priority. This culminated in the winter when a series of armed robberies on the trail occurred and resulted in arrests.

In a moment of inspiration John Lyons from the Facebook page RUN215 came up with a unique solution. Create a neighborhood watch to provide coverage to supplement the police, a trail watch. Announced at a press event in February 2016 the SRT Watch garnered the support of eleven local groups and non-for profits. Then nothing and problems continue along the trail.

June 2 - Homeless man threatens and chases female jogger.

May 21 - Two flashers on the trail
April 13 - Kids throw rocks at cyclist

April 8 - 12 year old child attempts to punch female runner

April 5 - Group of youths on BMX bikes grope and harass female runner

Some problems along the SRT have been addressed. Broken lights are being repaired, 911 has added the SRT to their maps, and markers have been placed along the trail to help people determine their location if they call 911.

Although the SRT Watch has held four training sessions there has been no indication when they are going to start patrolling. You would have thought the membership of RUN215 alone would have been enough to fill out the roll call for the SRT Watch. Let alone all of the people who help support the organizations are backing the SRT Watch.

I had high hopes that patrols would start in the spring, giving the SRT Watch time to work out the kinks of running this type of operation. Unfortunately there have been no informative updates from the SRT Watch since its press event.

Given the lack of updates the SRT Watch is becoming another example of the “Philly Shrug” (http://bit.ly/1U4nJOt). The Philly Shrug is a phrase that is used to embody a number of behaviors that relinquish self responsibility or reinforce apathy in the face of obstacles (cultural, political, etc.) and are specific to the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (http://bit.ly/1WHpDVp). It’s the antipathy that Philly residents take towards corrupt politicians, crime, a failing school system, and the pervasive litter in the streets that no one wants to take responsibility for.

I fear that in the end the SRT Watch will be yet another Philly Shrug. Unable to sustain itself for any length of time to make any kind of a difference because not enough people to care to make a difference.

Footnote: After I finished writing this post a woman was attacked and had her face slashed by an assailant (http://bit.ly/22WXF8c). At this point Councilman Kenyatta Johnson announced that the start of the SRT Watch would be accelerated to start this month (June 2016). What is really tragic is that someone had to get hurt for this to happen. It also makes me question how much longer the delay would have been had this not happened. Yet another example of the Philly Shrug.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Ride DNC - Broad St. Ride



Looking for something to do to escape the hustle, bustle, and traffic jams that the Democratic National Convention? Then save Wednesday, July 27 at 6:30pm for the Ride DNC - Broad St. Ride. Created by Alexandria Schneider,the organizer of the 2015 PopeRide and Maria Serrahima of the Philly Naked Bike Ride.


Departing from from the intersection of Broad St and Cheltenham Ave., in Elkins Park. The route is very simple, ride the length of Broad St. to FDR Park for an after party. If you can’t make it to the start of the ride there will be designated meetups along Broad St. so you can join in at any point along the route.


What makes this ride unique from all of the activities happening at and near the DNC, it’s apolitical. The ride has no affiliation with any candidate, political party, or viewpoint. Instead the organizers have proclaimed; “This ride is a peaceful event to celebrate the political process, and the role the people play in that. It is not a political protest. Neither the organizers nor the ride are officially affiliated with any parties, candidates, platforms, or issues.”

So if you are looking for a break from all of the madness and excitement surrounding the Democratic National Convention. Take a moment to enjoy the simple things in life, like a bike ride through Philadelphia.

For more information follow this link to rides Facebook page.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

LEFT!!! and Trail Etiquette

With the warm weather returning so will runners and cyclists to many of the area trails. Along with that includes the return of individuals and groups who use the trail in manner that can only be described as self centered. They have either forgotten, unfamiliar with, or ignored any semblance of trail etiquette. Treating the trails like their own personal training ground. So while they are out getting their fitness on they either don’t or worse yet, don’t care how their actions impact other trail users.

Ever seen elite athletes competing in the Boston Marathon or the Tour de France plugged into an iPod while they compete? Than you should train in the same manner. There was a time before iPods and Walkmans and when you trained you learned to listen to your body and the world around you. You developed a sense of rhythm and timing, you used objects and individuals ahead of you as a way to set a pace and go that extra distance. Running and cycling plugged in means you can’t hear what is going on around you, especially when someone is warning you that they are going to pass you.

If you are out for a run or ride and there is more than 2 of you, stay two abreast. Anything more than that and you are making it difficult for people to pass you, no matter which direction other trail users are coming from. I know that sounds obvious, but I am talking to you the 30 college aged young women who managed to block the entire trail while out for a run. And the eight cyclists near Boathouse Row riding in a peloton oblivious to everyone else. Both groups make life difficult for the rest of us.

Every year I encounter hammerheads and the wannabees who emulate them. Including the attitude that they and they alone are the ones that trails are intended for. This is a problem with cyclists and runners of both genders. The solution is for clubs and retail stores to do an annual reminder for the membership and customers. Along with signs big enough to read at trailheads. Because individual trail users trying to educate other trail users are met with derision and scorn.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

This is not the ride to cure Byko

As much as I would like to get behind Byko’s Safe Bike Ride, I just can’t. And it appears that the vast majority of Philly cyclists and Stu Bykofsky’s fanboys feel the same way. Contrary to Stu’s boast that “My strategy is to attract the ones who want to kill me. They are the majority. I am going for volume.” It appears that the majority has spoken and they have no interest in killing Mr. Bykofsky. Instead they are ignoring him.


There is one good thing that came out of this ride, when Mr. Bykofksy attempted to dominate the conversation on the ride’s Facebook page. Normally when Mr. Bykofsky interacts with cyclists and and cycling advocates it his through his opinion articles. Where he controls the narrative and can claim that his personal opinions are facts, without having to contend with actual facts or opinions other than his own. This time was different, when he foisted his opinions on Facebook. He was not ready for what happened, people pushed back with actual facts and challenged his statements.


My favorite interaction with Mr. Bykofsky was when he stated; “Oddly, the Bicycle Coalition does not do studies on red-light-running cyclists. I wonder why?” Implying that his personal opinion that all cyclists run red lights would be validated. Therefore there must be some vast conspiracy to cover this up. When I asked why didn’t Mr. Bykofsky conduct a survey of his own his response was one of denial; “ Because you wouldn't accept the result “.  That’s right folks it’s my fault that Mr. Bykofsky refuses to prove his own theory.


The Byko Safe Bike Ride is a “Courteous Mass”, during which the participants obey all stop lights and traffic signals to the letter of the law. Sometimes rides like this are used to demonstrate just what could happen if cyclists were to obey the letter of the law, to the extent that most car drivers do not.


When bike lanes were implemented in 2009 Stu Bykofsky created a mythology that all cyclists break the law by running red lights and stop signs or by riding on the sidewalk. By claiming that his personal opinion are actual facts.


Since that time the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia and other well intentioned, but misguided cyclists have been under the impression that if they could just get Stu to ride a bike he would have an epiphany.  Something Mr. Bykofsky made clear would not happen in his column “Byko: Want a piece of me” when he stated So this is not, in the words of a biker friend, "the Ride to Cure Byko." 

And yet this belief that continues to be seen on the Byko’s Safe Bike Ride Facebook page by apologists for Stu, in the form of comments as; “What better way to change someone's mind, then to involve them.” and  “But maybe he's not manipulating us, maybe we are manipulating him.”, My personal favorite is “His column has served as a platform for bicycle recognition and change.”


Nothing is going to change Mr. Bykofsky’s opinion. I can only hope that this ride will finally lay this theory to rest and everyone will stop giving Stu the attention and perception of legitimacy he desires.