Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Who Watches the Watchers?

The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia's Annual Membership meeting happened on Sunday, October 14 and they are still very reticent in revealing any details on the Safe Streets bill they are negotiating with the Philadelphia City Council. Which makes me ask, what are they trying to hide?

I went to the Philadelphia City Council website and found Bill 120532 complete with a PDF file of the 4 page bill. The bill is designed to raise the fine for cyclists running red lights from $3 to $100.00, which is in line with current state mandates Along with dooring, and cars parking in bicycle lanes. It includes some well-intentioned statements asking city agencies to take the needs of pedestrians and bicyclists into consideration when planning city infrastructure. While this is all very well and good, there are no indications as to what, if any, fines will be applied to people who park in bicycle lanes.

The concern is the current state of negotiations and the final bill when it is presented. Based on this statement made by Sarah Clarke Stuart, Campaign Director for the BCGP, made to the Philadelphia Weekly;  “We have been having productive meetings with the administration about [the bill],” We’re still waiting for what they come back with, then we have to meet with Councilman Squilla and we’ll know [what the final version will look like].” The BCGP has absolutely no leverage over the Philadelphia City Council; the bill that gave council members final authority over the installation of bicycle lanes in Philadelphia has been passed. All we can hope for is that they will honor whatever deal they made with the BCGP to get it passed. Worse yet the final results could be so watered down that cyclists will continue to face bicycle lanes used as parking spaces with no repercussions.

At a recent volunteer meeting the BCGP gave an update to its volunteers on the status of the bill, but on its blog they only said “there would be pizza” and how the bill “may have a large impact on bicycling in Philadelphia”. It's time that the BCGP updates all of the cyclists that will be impacted by this bill, not just their urban volunteers and wealthy suburban donors.

The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia is acting on behalf of all of the cyclists in Philadelphia it's time they provide an update before the bill is finalized to make sure this is what everyone finds acceptable. As opposed to what the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia can live with.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Philadelphia Tweed Ride 2012

Thanks to a recent Facebook post the 5th Annual Philadelphia Tweed Ride is back on for Saturday, November 17 at 12:00pm. Follow their Facebook or webpage for updates including the route as they develop.

So what is a Tweed Ride? It is a bicycle ride that incorporates a period theme for the way participants dress and accessories they bring. For a Tweed ride the theme is England from the 1890's to 1920 so the riders do wear a great deal of tweed. Along with accessories such as hats, compacts, pipes, hip flasks, pocket watches, and bow ties. Many of the participants have vintage bicycles or bicycles that look vintage; including three speeds, Dutch bikes, and the odd Penny Farthing. The Philadelphia Tweed Ride webpage is full of photo galleries from previous rides, many of the men and women look as if they have stepped off the fashion runways of that era.

This is a a bicycle ride that attracts over 100 riders and all cyclists is welcome. The ride wends its way through Center City with a one rest stop where you can converse and play croquet. The final stop is held at a local nightspot and includes the judging for: Most Magnificent Millinery, Most Marvelous Mustache, Most Stylish Steed, Most Snappy Lass,and Most Dapper Chap.

The Philadelphia Tweed Ride is everything that a social ride can and should be, part parade and part time machine this is a ride for all ages.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Philly Cranksgiving 2012

The Second Annual Philly Cranksgiving Ride is coming to Philadelphia Sunday, November 18. Part bike race, part charity food drive Cranksgiving requires riders to navigate to a series of predetermined supermarkets and buying an item of food from a list. With all of the proceeds donated to Philabundance. This year Gary and CJ took sometime out from their hectic planning schedule to answer a few questions about this years plans.

Last year with temperatures in the 60's, what secret ritual do you have planned to ensure similar weather?
    CJ: Maybe if we get everything done super last-minute like last year, everything will work out! Of course, we'll try to get everything done earlier, and it'll be 40 degrees out. Just our luck. Short answer: we're rollin' the dice.

    Gary: Last minute planning seemed to be the trick.  We're doing a lot more work ahead of schedule this year, but I'm sure we'll be rushing to do something last minute.  Hopefully we'll be lucky again this year!

    For people who want to ride instead of race is there a time limit to complete the route?
    CJ: We'll probably cap it at 2-3 hours, or have some sort of "If you want to be considered for prizes, your manifest must be in by...". It's kinda tough because a slower rider may end up being Most Charitable, so that's something we kinda have to figure out. But, we definitely don't want to discourage anyone from riding and having fun, especially because food is food and every item helps out Philabundance.

    Gary: Last year we had a prize for most charitable and it was very well received (With the winner donating 10 Additional Items!).  This year, we're trying to place more emphasis on prizes for charitability.  2-3 hours seems about right for time limit, but if you show up a few minutes after the limit with an entire thanksgiving feast, we might be able to work something out.

    How many miles can participants expect to ride?
    CJ: We're shooting for 15-20 miles total. We definitely want a laid-back vibe with a ride that most people should be able to do in a couple of hours, but still give the option for a short, fast 'race' should people choose to ride hard.

    What are you doing this year to promote Cranksgiving Philadelphia?
    CJ: For starters, Gary set us up with a spiffy new website! In addition, we already have a Facebook event up with more people "Attending" than last year's event. We've got a couple of sponsors already and I'm trying to bug Gary into drafting flyers and other promo stuff that we can put in bike shops as well as on the web. We are hoping that earlier (and better) promotion will get us many more riders than last year. In addition, word-of-mouth from last year's participants should help us get Cranksgiving Philly bigger and better each year.

    Gary: Word of mouth is playing a pretty big role again this year.  We made sure to set up promotional material (with the website and FaceBook event page) early to make sure we get the word out there.  That, in combination with people who were excited about it last year, has already given us a good idea that about the potential increase in participants.  We'll be amping up promotion the closer it gets to the event, so expect flyers, Facebook updates, tweets, highway billboards, skywriting... ok maybe not the last two...   All in all, after last year, we're really excited to see what this year's event holds.