Standing at the summit of the Manayunk “Wall,” bike race bigwigs expressed a common interest – making the Philadelphia International Championship a “family-friendly” event.
On Tuesday, civic leaders and representatives from city government gathered in Manayunk to speak about the continued efforts to ensure responsible enjoyment of the PIC bike race, now in its 28th year.
Don Simon, chair of the Roxborough-Manayunk Bike Race Committee, said that after several years of destructive behavior surrounding the race, his organization brought together the Manayunk and Roxborough Development Corporations, State Representative Pam DeLissio, 4th District Councilman Curtis Jones, Jr., Captain John Cerrone from the 5th Police District and various civic groups last year to push for increased enforcement.
While prior statements to Newsworks suggest concerns with police tactics last year, Simon was nonetheless pleased with the progress made.
“Last year there was significant improvement in the conditions around the bike race,” Simon recalled.
However, he observed that the race’s party culture has developed over the course of several years and will not go away in one season, necessitating vigilance in the prevention of disruptive behavior. This year, Simon expects continued enforcement both during the race as well as during the preceding weekend.
“What we’re after is to keep the race because we think it is an asset to the community,” he said. “We need to be able to encourage more family-friendly participation.”
Police presence and enforcement
Representing the 5th Police District was Lt. Michael Payne.
Explaining strategy, Payne indicated that the 5th Police District will be out in force, and will have both uniformed and plainclothes officers working to ensure that the race maintains the “family-friendly” atmosphere. In addition, he said the PPD will again collaborate with the state police.
Payne – who will be a six year veteran of the bike race this year– said that community feedback related from last year’s event was largely positive with regard to policing, and said that 5th District officers will attempt to build on that momentum this year.
“We’ll try to resolve any problems that may occur quickly and efficiently,” he stated.
Asked if he felt that the state’s change in Sunday morning liquor serving times from 11 a.m. to 9 a.m. would have any impact on this year’s race, Payne replied that he didn’t expect any additional problems this year.
Simon reinforced this assessment, noting that most of the problems associated with drinking are associated with specific homes, not businesses.
With regard to so-called “party houses,” Payne said that problem residences are known to the PPD, and can expect exacting levels of enforcement.
“They know who they are and we know who they are,” he said, “and it’s going to be zero tolerance for that type of behavior.”
A weekend of “Night Bike Court”
Michelle Wilson, director of communications for Councilman Jones, expanded upon enforcement efforts.
Wilson noted the last year’s event featured the first dedicated “Night Bike Court” used to issue citations. She said that there will be increased hours for the court, beginning on Friday evening and continuing throughout the weekend on an as-needed basis.
Asked about the presence of law enforcement agencies beyond the PPD, Wilson affirmed that agents from the city’s Department of License and Inspections and the state Liquor Control Board will be present.
Jane Lipton, executive director of the Manayunk Development Corporation, added that businesses along Main Street in Manayunk are well aware of the rules and regulations regarding serving alcohol.
Simon said that Liquor Control enforcement officers were well received last year and added that their presence was, in fact, applauded by residents.
“We expect them to be back in full force this year as well,” he said.
A message from the Pro Cycling Tour president
Although not in attendance, race organizers distributed a statement that reinforced similar messages of responsibility and community.
“We support the Committee’s desire for spectators to enjoy the race responsibly,” wrote Dave Chauner, Pro Cycling Tour president.
“It’s only been in recent years that some parties have gotten out of hand,” he continued, “and last year, thanks to the communication and efforts led by the MDC, race day was again safe, enjoyable and respectful for fans and spectators throughout Manayunk.”
“The presence of these international athletes has brought so much that is good to Manayunk,” concluded Chauner, adding, “we want to sure the positive outcomes remain center stage.”