Biking is a 'point of pride' for Philadelphia commuters

May 20, 2011

 Despite the dreary weather on Friday, Philadelphia commuters celebrated National Bike to Work Day by riding to work on two wheels. 

Next to the Falls Bridge along the Schuylkill River Trail, a few commuters took the time to talk about their awareness of the nationally recognized day.

"I do bike to work on a semi-regular basis," said Chris Linn, "but I made a point of biking today."

Linn, who bikes from Mt. Airy to his job as an urban planner on Race and Sixth Street, describes biking through today's bleak weather as "a point of pride."

Pulling aside the sleeve of his spandex shirt to look at his watch, he realized he was late and rushed off towards Center City.

Eduardo Ruchelli didn't know about Bike to Work Day. He bikes to work from Glenside to West Philly, "everyday, year round."

For nearly thirty years, Ruchelli has biked through Forbidden Drive to the Schuylkill River Trail, a route made more difficult recently by trail renovations between the SEPTA bus depot on Ridge Avenue and the Falls River Bridge in East Falls.

"I'm just waiting for this path to reopen," Ruchelli said. 

Other events took place around the city on Friday in celebration of the event.

In the morning, city politicians, including Mayor Nutter, Congressmen Bob Brady and Chaka Fattah, as well as Fourth District Councilman Curtis Jones Jr., met at the Art Museum to bike to City Hall.

The Mayor wore his suit, while the Congressmen wore athletic gear. Accompanied by about 100 people, they rode down the parkway. 

After they had reached their destination, the Mayor and Congressmen spoke about the benefits of cycling.

"It was great to hear their support," said Sarah Clark Stuart, Campaign Director for the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia. They gave remarks calling for more city bike lanes and linking regional trails.

On the Bike to Work Day facebook page, which was created by the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, people posted locations for commuting cyclists to stop by for a break, food, and even bike repairs.

"I'll be at Temple University giving quick fixes for any commuter or biker coming through the bell tower area," Jonas Mendoza offered online, adding that he'll have snacks between 8 and 11 a.m.

Stuart said that the day is a chance for people to give biking a try. And once they've made that first journey, the benefits of biking to work will be clear.

"Not only is it an inexpensive way to get around, but it's good for your health and it's fun," Stuart said, "Not many people can say that they have fun on their commutes... except for bicyclists."


May 20, 2011, By Max Matza for NewsWorks