From the public-safety standpoint, it’s business as usual for this year’s Parx Casino Philly Cycling Classic.
At earlier iterations of the race, public rowdiness triggered a comprehensive response from a variety of civic leaders and local officials.
There were press conferences, community outreach efforts, signage, robocalls and even a so-called “Bike Court,” all designed to minimize the ruckus that became associated with the event.
Local leaders reported that last year’s crowd was the best-behaved in recent memory. Behind the scenes, though, precautions were undertaken to prevent a recurrence of the tragedy that occurred at the 2013 Boston Marathon.
Staying the course
This year, police expect to continue past enforcement efforts.
Asked to describe strategy, Lt. Michael Payne of the 5th Police District in Roxborough said that the police department’s Homeland Security Unit will again participate in bike-race preparations.
The state police will be tasked with targeting underage drinking. Payne said city police officers detailed to the race will be deployed to several posts to enforce public-intoxication laws and other quality-of-life violations.
Payne acknowledged that police don’t normally have any problems on race day, but will work to ensure that the event remains family-oriented “as it’s supposed to be.”
Providing backup support
Police aren’t the only officials working to ensure a positive experience for residents.
Josh Cohen, special assistant to Fourth District Councilman Curtis Jones, Jr., said their office will again stay the course with signage and robocalls.
“Our office will be maintaining what we’ve done in years past, in close cooperation with the Philadelphia Police Department and [Department of] Licenses and Inspections,” Cohen said.
Kevin Smith, president of the Manayunk Neighborhood Council, agreed that much would be the same with year’s race. He said that law-enforcement officials and neighborhood leaders met earlier this year.
In addition to setting prerogatives about public-alcohol consumption — once again, blind eyes will be turned to plastic cups — Smith said residents will have advance notice about parking restrictions.
According to Smith, community members were given little warning about the restrictions last year, with the result being towed cars and irate residents. He chalked it up to last-minute preparations.
This year, Smith reported that it’s difficult to discern whether neighbors are excited — or even aware — of the pending event.
“It’s pretty quiet as far as I can tell,” he said. “I hope [race officials] got the word out so that we can have a good turnout.”