Community leaders give a “B” on bike race rowdiness

Community leaders representing Roxborough and Manayunk agreed this week that their push to curb disorderly behavior during this year’s bike race paid off.

“This was the best I’ve ever seen it,” said Bernard Guet, executive director of the Roxborough Development Corporation.

“People were cheering for the riders and not just ‘oh where’s the next place to drink,'” said Jane Lipton, executive director of the Manayunk Development Corporation.

On Wednesday, Guet and Lipton met with fellow members of an ad-hoc bike committee to grade – figuratively and literally – their multi-month effort to dial back an escalating party scene. That work included partnering with government officials and agencies and the Philadelphia Police Department to step up enforcement during race weekend.

The results included more officers on patrol during Sunday’s race, adding police barricades along the course, and sending out agents from both the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board and the city’s Department of Licenses & Inspection, among other things.

The group, which additionally includes members from four local civic groups, gave the outcome between a “B” and a “B-“, according to Don Simon, who chaired the committee.

The bike race committee includes members of MDC, RDC, the Central Roxborough Civic Association, the Wissahickon Neighbors Civic Association, the Wissahickon Interested Citizens Association and the Manayunk Neighborhood Council.

Asked if he would have given previous bike race crowds an ‘F’, Simon said, “Are you kidding? Is there anything below it?”

Lipton said “substantive” progress came as a result of everyone unifying around a common goal. She said she was particularly pleased that the committee’s city and state partners, which include City Councilman Curtis Jones Jr. and State Rep. Pamela DeLissio, came through for a diverse group of organizations.

“This year we got more than being ‘yesed’, we got change,” said Lipton.

Still, there were at least a couple of things the committee thought could have been done differently. Lipton and others thought more police should have been deployed to the community’s residential streets instead of along Manayunk’s Main Street, a commercial corridor.

The focus of the committee’s efforts, said Lipton, was cracking down on the party houses that traditionally dot the two northwest neighborhoods throughout the weekend.

“There was an overabundance of police officers on Main Street and it would have been better to have more on top of the hill,” said Lipton.

Other issues focused on stricter enforcement of the city’s open container laws and alleged complaints about excessive enforcement by Liquor Control Board agents.

The bike committee was unable to obtain the number of citations handed out during race day – 12 individuals and 12 businesses – and so did not discuss the matter during Wednesday night’s meeting. Many members were looking for an increase from last year when only five citations were handed out.

Moving forward, Simon said the group plans to meet with some of the officials they worked with to similarly dissect this year’s enforcement efforts.

Simon said the committee will take a break over the summer, but reconvene in the fall to start talking about next year’s race. He said there will likely be a bigger effort to promote more family friendly events throughout the weekend of the race.

In the meantime, the bike committee will enjoy its first taste of success from a long-overdue effort.

“When you do something, something happens. We should have started earlier, years ago,” said RDC’s Guet.

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