The bike race is back on, and community leaders in Northwest Philadelphia are beginning to take steps to ensure that recent strides made in curbing rowdiness are continued in 2013.
As reported by NewsWorks, the first-ever Parx Casino Philly Cycling Classic is taking the place of the Philadelphia International Cycling Championship, which ran aground earlier this year due to financial woes.
In March, officials with the PCC announced that the Manayunk and Roxborough neighborhoods will be the site of the event’s start and finish lines on June 2, with cyclists from the United States and abroad lining up on Lyceum Avenue, the summit of the so-called “Manayunk Wall.”
“It will bring a different level and type of activity to the top of the Wall and to Manayunk,” observed Kevin Smith, president of the Manayunk Neighborhood Council. “We’re looking at a different animal this year.”
‘Good cop, bad cop’
Adopting a proactive stance, community leaders have started what will be an ongoing discussion with city officials and bike race organizers in order to minimize the party atmosphere which the race has become associated with locally.
On Monday, members of the MNC and the Manayunk-Roxborough Bike Race Committee met with PCC representatives to begin the conversation. Recalling the exchange at a MNC membership meeting this week, MNC member Dave Bass said that he and Smith inadvertently adopted the roles of “good cop, bad cop.”
Affirming his role as bad cop, Bass said that his prerogative was on the possibility of community benefits administered by race organizers, given the impact that the event will have on residents.
“What we proposed to them was that they contribute a significant sum of money to each of the civics [in East Falls, Manayunk, Roxborough, and Wissahickon],” said Bass, adding that the underwriting of other community events would be welcome.
Bass said that race organizers indicated a willingness to assist with specific tasks, given impending deadlines of their inaugural attempt of putting the race together.
“They didn’t completely shut the door to working with us,” said Bass. “It wasn’t a bad start.”
Community engagement initiatives
Beyond community benefits, Smith is lobbying for assistance with community engagement initiatives, envisioning a bike race-related neighborhood resource flyer to be mailed to neighborhood residents.
Estimating a $500 price tag for the service, Smith said, “there are a lot of direct things [that can be done] beyond general contributions to our well-being.”
Observing that there is added pressure to community groups and organizers given the race’s kick-off in less than two months, Smith noted that he is pleased to continue the work thus accomplished.
“We made very good strides the last two years,” he said.
Race organizer Richard Adler, said one of his group’s goals is to make the revamped bike race a “true community event.”
“We had a very productive meeting with members of the Manayunk-Roxborough Bike Race Committee on Monday,” he said in an email statement on Thursday. “We look forward to working with them and making the Parx Casino Philly Cycling Classic an event that these neighborhoods are proud to host for years to come.”
According to Smith, bike race committee members and city officials will meet on Thursday night to review the previous year’s procedures for police deployment and community outreach in preparation for the 2013 event.
Beyond this, Bass related that the bike race committee will work with organizers to develop specific plans for community benefits and cooperation with neighboring civic associations.
“We think we’ve taken the first steps in some kind of working relationship with them,” said Bass, “that hopefully will give something actual back to the neighborhood.”