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Bikes on the rampage!

Was the hue and cry about rowdy partying and the promise of wall-to-wall cops a hindrance to bike race attendance? Or can it all be blamed on one dramatic 2008 photo?

"Man, it's a good thing Stu Bykofsky isn't here to see this!" I mused yesterday as I watched people on bicycles riding the wrong way down a one-way road. Worse, this is a special new roadway that only the bikes have ever been allowed to drive on - cars, keep off!

Some context might help, as this was (in case you didn't guess) during the TD Bank International Cycling Championship, and the cyclists were all going by in a blur. But they were indeed on a road that has not yet been opened to cars - the ramp from Kelly Drive (westbound) to Ridge Avenue. (PennDOT says we'll finally be able to drive that one next month.)

This was one of several spots I visited in the course of the race that plows through my home neighborhood. From this spot just east of the Wissahickon creek I walked the route to the Wall and back.

And it does seem that the much-ballyhooed crackdown on rowdy partying was having an effect. Granted, in my travels, I never got more than a few steps without seeing people drinking in public from open containers (I mean, if not, what the hell would they be doing?), but the revelry was somewhat subdued overall, and more importantly, seemed to include about 2/3 as many people as usual.

Anybody else notice a reduced turnout? I don't think the Bike Race gives out attendance numbers, if they could somehow collect them, and have no perspective on viewing areas in town, but I can't help wondering if all the pre-race hype (I heard there were robocalls about the crackdown, but I didn't get one) had the effect of quashing some of the volume.

Not that that's a bad thing, of course. I only hope that the real cause wasn't the photo we put up on Thursday (at right), which may have led some to think of the race as a cavalcade of shirtless fistfights. In fact, from where I sit, that's the only plausible explanation!

If so, please be assured it's all in good fun, and come on back next year! Just be sure that if you're on a bike, remember the immortal words of Stu, and stay off the freakin' sidewalk!