May 26, 2010
By Billy Gallagher
As he reached City Hall, sweat dripping down his face and shirt, and a small group of dedicated cyclists cheering him on from a street corner, Pat Cunnane knew this was no ordinary commute. He had just won the Sixth Annual Bike, Car, Transit Commuter Race hosted by the Philadelphia Bike Coalition, proving once again that a bicycle is the fastest way to commute in Philadelphia.
Cunnane, Nisha Mitchell, and Jeremy Nelson all started at the intersection of Frankford Ave. and Master Street, and raced to the corner of 15th and Market Streets near City Hall. Cunnane, 51, of Advanced Sports, hopped on his bicycle, accompanied by one of the Coalition’s bike ambassadors, and covered the distance in a winning time of 13 minutes and 20 seconds.
Nelson, 33, general manager of Zipcar Philly, drove a fleet vehicle with a bike ambassador riding shotgun to make sure he also followed the rules of the road. Nelson arrived 5:54 after the bike. Nisha Mitchell, 27, and the Coalition’s Bike Month Coordinator, rode the Frankford-Market Line Express B Train and arrived 10:49 after the bike.
Cunnane said he usually bikes to work and showers and changes at the office. Mitchell also primarily uses bicycling to commute, though she also uses SEPTA. All of the competitors agreed that more people should bike, and that folks would be much more inclined to if roads were safer for biking.
Winner Pat Cunnane
“They don’t feel safe on the road with cars, Cunnane said. “The more cities build bike lanes, the more people ride bikes. The number of people who ride bikes has increased faster than the city has put down bike lanes.” Mitchell agreed, “they don’t believe the roads are safe enough. Philadelphia has crazy drivers.”
In the six years the Bike Coalition has hosted the Commuter Race, the bicycle has won every year. But biking enthusiasts are not the only ones who believe cycling is best way to get around. According to a 2007 survey by the Center City District, biking is the fastest way of commuting in Center City (the survey was conducted between Broad Street and 23rd Street along Chestnut, Sansom and Walnut Street and compared biking, walking, driving, and riding SEPTA buses). Nelson, who walks to work every day, added that he believes that fewer people bike or walk to work because, “they need a car during the day for errands and appointments and if they don’t bring that car to work they might feel stranded.”
Just in case any of the contestants were unsure of which method of transportation reigns supreme as an all-around early morning rush hour winner, a local cop supplied the answer. As the three commuters gathered around the bike and Zipcar for a picture, a police officer told Jeremy that he needed to move the car or he would get a ticket. He said nothing about the bicycle.