This week, organizers of the first Parx Casino Philly Cycling Classic, announced that this summer’s race will kick off and end at the top of The Wall on Lyceum Avenue in between Manayunk and Roxborough. On June 2, dozens of cycling teams will bike 12-mile loops from The Wall to Lemon Hill and back.
But due to unwanted rowdiness from the past, some residents of the hilly Northwest Philly neighborhood aren’t too thrilled about the proximity of the race to their homes.
“I don’t like it,” said Dave Howard, who has been living in the area for 52 years. “They block up the streets and people throw their trash on the street, and they put porta-potties here and it stinks.”
Mark Trostle, however, lives in the area with his wife and two kids, and said he appreciates the improvements organizers have made in previous years.
“We’re excited for the race,” he said. “For the last three years, it’s been good. As long as the event this year continues to be family-friendly like in previous years, and not a complete underage party scene.”
Trostle expressed that the changes “have been amazing, and the city does a good job with setting up quickly and tearing down quickly.”
The attempt to minimize drunken debauchery was a result of the Manayunk-Roxborough Bike Race Committee. Don Simon, Acting Chair of the committee, joined a coalition of local civics and development corporations in recent years to help remove the negative aspects of the event.
“There used to be alcohol-fueled, disruptive and destructive behaviors,” said Simon. “It became an excuse for people to come into the community and drink excessively. It caused problems of vandalism, of underage drinking and parties, broken glass, and litter. A lot of people in the neighborhood were really upset. And quite frankly, some of them still are.”
Simon, who lives a block away from the wall, helped increase enforcement of existing regulations, including the prohibition of walking with open alcoholic containers and public drunkenness.
“We created a zero-tolerance policy and it has been enforced — more or less — in the past two years,” he said. “We want to maintain that progress we’ve made.”
As to whether Simon believes the new start and end point will affect this progress, he is unsure.
“Some people feel that if all the organizers, sponsors, and officials are here instead of down at the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, then we’ll create a slightly better atmosphere,” Simon said. “That might be true, but we’ll just have to wait and see.”