Neighborhood leaders see improvements in race day scene

Check out our video of race day below. 

Manayunk and Roxborough residents hoping for a tamer bike race crowd this year appeared to have gotten what they wished for on Sunday.

While parties and plastic beer cups certainly dotted those neighborhoods, a number of spectators with whom NewsWorks spoke thought things had improved.

“It seems a little less crowded and less rowdy than before,” said the REv. Bob Hopkins, pastor of Bethany Lutheran Church in Roxborough.

Hopkins, who has headed the Martin Street congregation for the last 12 years, added that increased law enforcement this year may have played a part.

The Manayunk resident didn’t notice a lot of the extra police officers that were promised, but did see about 20 Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board agents marching down the street.

“It’s the first time I’ve ever seen them,” said Hopkins as a large party carried on across the street.

Fellow Manayunk resident Melanie Driver did notice a more pronounced police presence and a more family-friendly atmosphere as a result.

“When you’re walking up and down the wall on each side of the street, every several feet there are at least two cops,” said Driver near the bottom of Leverington Avenue near Main Street.

Driver usually skips town to avoid the beer-soaked scene, but said she was pleased with her decision to stick around.

“The kids are kind of well behaved,” said Driver.

Roxborough resident Don Simon had to agree: People did seem less raucous.

“I didn’t run into anyone personally who said they were sick of the race and wanted it to go away,” said Simon, who chairs an ad-hoc bike race committee that has pushed for race day reform.

Simon did an informal survey of spectators during the day. His informal findings were that disorderly behavior – underage drinking and public intoxication, among them – was less of a problem this year.

“I think we have some more work to do,” said Simon. “But I think the enforcement agencies got the picture.”

Simon said he heard second-hand that Liquor Control Board agents shut down several illegal keg parties for underage drinking. The Liquor Control Board could not be reached for comment on Sunday night.

Nick Monteleone, 50, has lived in Manayunk his entire life and hasn’t missed a single race since the tradition started nearly 30 years ago. 

When asked about the neighborhood’s party scene, Monteleone said he’s never had a problem with it and thinks there’s room for more. 

“Not enough,” said Monteleone about the number of parties. “The only thing I have a problem with is people bringing their bikes to a bike race. It’s too congested.”

Police officers declined to be interviewed, but said that they had encountered no major problems while on patrol during the race.

The bike race committee will hold a private meeting Wednesday, said Simon, to do a “post-mortem” of the race and decide next steps.

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