Police Promise 'Zero Tolerance' at Bike Race
Neighborhood wants to return Philadelphia International Cycling Champion to a family-friendly event.
The Philadelphia International Cycling Champion has developed a reputation for two things: booze and bikes. Local groups have worked to cut down on the former to emphasize the latter.
"We are working in a collaborative effort with the Manayunk Development Corporation, state police, Councilman Jones' office. Basically, we'll be out in full enforcement with uniform presence, and our plain clothes contingent to ensure that the bike race is a family friendly atmosphere," Philadelphia Police Lieutenant Michael Payne said at a press conference Tuesday atop the Manayunk Wall.
The June 3 bike race features international male and female cyclists racing through Philadelphia, Manayunk and Roxborugh. It also includes a festive party atmosphere, complete with keggers, drinking games and all-day parties.
"I don't want to target anyone, but they know who they are. We know who they are. It's going to be zero tolerance for that type of behavior," Payne said.
Resident Don Simon helped organize the Manayunk/Roxborough Bike Race Committee before the 2011 race and has worked with local, city and race officials to tone down the "destructive" party atmosphere that pervaded the race. He said during that race residents witnessed an uptick in police presence with significant improvements felt.
The plan for 2012 is continued vigilance.
"We know that a culture that has developed over several years does not go away in one season. We need to keep the pressure on here," he said. "We believe that the race is an asset to the community, but we need to return more family-friendly participation."
House parties aren't exclusive to bike race Sunday morning, or to even that weekend. Units rented by students and young adults plague many neighbors throughout the year. It just comes to a head during the race.
"This isn't just the race itself. It's the weekend—partying starts Friday night and just continues on through," Simon said.
Payne said the Fifth District of the Philadelphia Police, through Community Officer Charles Kline, already reached out to problematic houses warning them of the increased enforcement. In addition, police have posted flyers speaking out against excessive partying.
"We are well aware of the party houses. We've done our homework on that. My sergeants and (Kline) have been diligent. This is not a one-day event. We are planning for this throughout the year. And we've been around to them, letting them know what they can and can't do," Payne said.
Through the help of state, local and Liquor Control officers, Payne said they'd work to enforce applicable laws. Simon said if 2011 was an indicator, 2012 is in good hands.
"The liquor control enforcement was very well received up here. In fact, they were applauded by neighbors when they came through. So we expect them to be back in full force this year, as well," Simon said.
For the second straight race, the Office of City Councilman Curtis Jones, Jr. (D-4), helped organize night courts for violations to be immediately dealt with by law enforcement. Michelle Wilson, Jones' spokesperson, said the courts will run Friday through Sunday.
"We have increased hours this year for the bike court. We had citations that were given and directed through the court. And we're looking forward to utilizing that as needed for this upcoming weekend, as well," she said.
Residents should call 311 or 911 with complaints. The court location could change depending on logistics.
"We were pleased with last year. You'll see lots of uniforms this weekend—from Licenses and Inspection to the Liquor Control Board," she said, in addition to state and city police.
9 a.m. Drinking
Though a majority of the problems involve houses in the neighborhood, the Manayunk Development Corporation is working with its businesses to foster a responsible atmosphere on Main Street.
Often on Sundays, businesses run brunch specials that sometimes advertise alcohol. This year marks the first time, according to Pennsylvania law, that people may serve alcohol starting at 9 a.m.—it was previously restricted to 11.
Simon said he didn't think the new law would have too much of an impact.
"Most of the 9 a.m. drinking is with brunch and the restaurants. It's going to be people in the suburbs. I don't think the (new law) will have significant effect," he said.
Executive Director Jane Lipton said the MDC will post signs throughout the business district informing race-goers that it's unacceptable to walk around carrying glass bottles and cans.
"We know that you're coming to Manayunk and to Roxborough. We know that you are going to have a good time. But that cans and bottles will not be tolerated along the race course..." Lipton said. "We're just saying think before you drink too much. We really want the bike race to continue as a sporting event."
"Last year we saw state police on Main Street, along the wall and up the hill. Just from my part... I can tell you my businesses are well aware of the regulations. We've gone through great lengths to make sure the word has gone out about our message," Lipton said.
Return to Families
A major component of the 2012 race is the addition of the Bicycling Magazine Open, a new amateur race that allows anyone to tackle the 14.7 mile course.
In a news release, Pro Cycling Tour President Dave Chauner touted that race, which starts at 7:30 a.m., as a family-friendly improvement.
"We've added a major family event to this year's race by teaming up with Bicycling Magazine and Charity of Choices to create (the new race). This 'Gran Fondo' or 'Big Ride' allows every rider to feel like a pro as they challenge themselves," he said.
The idea was for many groups or individuals to ride for local charities, thus giving local communities some skin in the race.
Another group, the East Falls Development Corporation has organized a family-friendly event to coincide with the race. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on race day, there will be food, music and kids games at Midvale Avenue and Kelly Drive.
For more information on the bike race, visit Pro Cycling Tour.com.