Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Philadelphia Bicycle Coalition's 1972 Commuter Race

From the BCGP History Vault: May 1st 1972 - In honor of National Bike Week, proclaimed by President Nixon, the newly formed Philadelphia Bicycle Coalition held its first bicycle commuter race. And the first known media article about the Philadelphia Bicycle Coalition, "Cycles Beat Cars in Center City Rush Hour", appeared on the front page of the May 2nd, 1972 edition of the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin.

The commuter race was quite an event: it involved 3 private automobiles, a motorcycle, a taxi (driven by Coalition founder John Dowlin) and at least 5 bicycles. The motorcycle (driven by the reporter Douglas D. Gill) took the checkered flag, while bicyclist Ronald Howard came in 2nd (pictured) arriving 2 minutes later, and followed by shortly by 4 bikes with the cars arriving 10 minutes later. Dowlin's taxi came in dead last 17 minutes behind the leader.

The Bicycle Coalition started hosting an Commuter Race again during the 2005 Transit Strike. The Commuter Race currently occurs annually during Bike Month (May) and includes a bicyclist, a car driver, and transit rider.

And perhaps a testament as to how far we have come, the article quotes Keystone AAA Safety Director Roy D. Hanshaw as saying "If more bicyclists started using Center City streets there would be a dramatic increase in accidents".

I am glad that he was wrong.


Anonymous said...