Monday, September 07, 2009

Philadelphia Seeps Into Nation's Bike (Counter) Culture

Depending on what news source you look at, between 400 and 1000+ participated in the Philly Naked Bike Ride. From a news cycle perspective it was a brilliant accident, a Sunday night event on a holiday weekend timed with the local news offered a far more interesting story than the usual interviews with visitors to the Ocean City Boardwalk.

This weekend's other event was the International Hardcourt Bicycle Polo World Championships in Kensington. 48 teams registered including many from Canada and Europe registered for the event which took place over two days. It could be surmised that tournament participants injected extra energy into the naked ride. The final stop of the ride - an afterparty in adjacent Northern Liberties even suggests a wee bit of coordination.

But naked riders and bike polo does not make bicycling a mainstream activity. TV Viewers in the exurbs must be wondering what's crazier: parading naked or riding a bike in the city.

Spending a week with the family in North Wildwood has given me hope for the future. I saw more than a half dozen bike trailers with kids in tow and even a trike with a front end kids compartment, similar to the Dutch Bakfiets. Bike shops were selling beach chair clamps that attached to the chainstay of the bike. People who were vacationing a few blocks off the beach saw the utility of bikes for the last half mile.

Kids in Tow - North Wildwood Bike Path

Which is why TD Bank Bike Philly is so important. We have succeeded in putting our city on the nation's bike culture map, but your cousin in North Wales or Evesham isn't clamoring to bike from the Adventure Aquarium to the Philadelphia Zoo. Take the cars away and add some TLC and suddenly the absurd becomes palatable.

We hope that ride with us this Sunday and more importantly invite your cousin along. Clothing and helmets are of course mandatory.