Supporters of the T.D. Bank Philadelphia Pro Cycling Championship want to limit the drunkenness and rowdiness that have been part of past race days, particularly in Manayunk near the famous Wall.
Last year’s race tried very hard to stress a family-friendly feeling – with increased education about proper behavior and sterner enforcement. Don Simon has lived in Manayunk for 17 years, and is the Chair of the Manayunk/Roxborough Bike Race Committee. He said he saw an improvement last year from past races, which were plagued by vandalism, fights, and drunken spectators using residents’ yards as toilets. But Simon sees ways to improve things this weekend:”We have asked to have officers patrolling the course. The past couple of years they’ve been assigned to stations – basically corners and I think it would be helpful to have them on the course more. Some of the senior officers, they were generally around on the course, but we think it would be helpful to have more active patrols. It did not happen last year.”
Simon knows the problems that have come with the bike race will not disappear in a single year.
Jane Lipton, the executive director of the Manayunk Development Corporation, said in the past the race has disrupted business – and sober life – as crowds gather to watch cyclists climb the famous Manayunk Wall.
Last year, she said, in a concerted community effort, “We were trying to reduce the spectacle and return to the sport. And I think we accomplished that somewhat last year by dialing back some of the rowdy, over-drinking behavior.”
Lipton said last year life went back to normal faster and some businesses that didn’t usually open up on race day actually invited customers in that Sunday afternoon.
The men’s race, seven laps of the 14.7 mile course that concludes on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, is slated to begin at 10:45 a.m. Sunday.
The women’s race, which will cover four laps of the same course, begins at 10:55.
If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to pedal up the Manayunk Wall, this Sunday is your chance. A three-lap contest for amateur riders, covering the same course as the pros, begins at 7 a.m.
Registration info is available here.