Monday, June 13, 2011

Where is Philadelphia's Bike Culture?


One of the things that I find so frustrating about the greater Philadelphia area is a lack of bike culture. Something beyond the century rides that populate the calendar and rides with an ineffective political messages like Critical Mass and the Word Wide Naked Bike Ride. The one thing that Philadelphia lacks is events that can be described as a party on wheels.

For example Los Angeles has the Midnight Ridazz, a loosely affiliated group of cyclists who have created social rides that are described as a party on wheels. In New York City Times Up has a diverse collection of rides that explore New York City like moonlight rides through Central Park. Car free happy hours are becoming more commonplace and yet none of this happens in Philadelphia.

We have a city full of college students and business professionals that these types of rides and events would attract. But there is a lack of vision and leadership, no one seems to be willing to step up and take some initiative on a consistent basis.

Occasionally there are glimmers of hope, flashes of creativity that show the possibilities when people make an effort. Like the Bilenky Cyclocross, a cyclocross race that occurs in December in a local junkyard with a course designed by Bilenky Cycle Works. What started out as a slightly silly, slightly serious race has begun to attract racers from beyond Philadelphia. In three years the Philadelphia Tweed Ride has grown over 125 riders and how many rides have you heard of that include a rest stop to play croquet. Most recently the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia transformed the top level of parking garage into an outdoor movie night that drew a crowd of over 130 people and one dog.

There is potential and there are possibilities. It will take inspiration and motivation to create rides like the Midnight Ridazz and other events.

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