Maybe there's a solution that allows the crowds to support charities on MLK Drive without kicking cyclists with disabilities to the curb.
Today's column asks the delicate question, are there too many good causes clogging up the river drives on the weekends? It's posed by Rob Quinn, a man with cerebral palsy who loves riding with a program of the Pennsylvania Center for Adapted Sports. But two weeks ago, and three more times this summer, non-profit groups' events will keep him from riding.
A reader, Michael Lehr, wrote:
I empathize with Rob Quinn. I live near the museum and ride my bicycle on the drives many weekends -- between the regatas on the East and walks on the West it does seem at times that we 'regular' citizens get the short end of the stick.
At a minimum, someone should make sure that the charity runners/walkers occupy either the roadway of the path, but not both -- at least that way those of us who frequent the drives would not have to dismount and push our bikes. I have on several occasions been verball abused by the charity walks for simply trying to ride my bike home as they clog every possible inch of pavement. The organizers of these events should be more mindful of those Philly citizens and taxpaers who make their use of our space possible.
Another reader, Scott A. Cohen, thought some basis courtesy might help. The attorney/biker wrote:
A simple solution would to have charity organizations let the walks know that they can only take one lane ..... other lane for bikers, runners..... they certainly do not need to walk spread out from curb to curb. ... they should be made aware the drive is to share ... been out there plenty and all they need to do is just MOVE OVER. no big deal ... instead they are oblivious for the most part. I have a bell and I use it.
A third, Austin Faberman, happened to be on the drive this weekend for the ADL's Walk Against Hate. He noted a few Lance Armstrongs wizzing by the walkers, but didn't blame them entirely.
What DOESN'T happen on these walks, is that no one dedicates any road lane to non-walkers. Why is that? It seems to me that walkers can easily use 2/3rds of the roadway, allowing the other 1/3 to be used by the general public. Seems simple to me, and it's a win for everyone. The City imposes a "free lane" rule, doesn't have to limit the number of walks, and everyone gets to use the MLK Drive.
Mark Focht, the No. 2 man in Parks and Rec, offered an alternative idea. On those days when the charity event conflict with disabled riders plans, move the Adaptive Sports program for a new paved loop that city built around sites on the Centennial grounds, like Memorial Hall, the Please Touch Museum, and the Horticulture Center.
It's a two-mile course, he said, and not nearly as busy.
Rob Quinn told me he'd check it out.