Bikes a 'major' form of transportation, Mr. Mayor?


This year’s Philadelphia International Cycling Championship has been cancelled (but we could see Congressman Bob Brady riding to the rescue like the Lone Ranger). I hope I have a column Thursday deconstructing this.

The cancellation became known Sunday, the mayor couldn’t comment Monday (maybe he was doing his MLK Day of Service) but Tuesday his office issued the press release below.

It’s mostly wishful thinking and yada-yada, but my eye was drawn to two points: His plan (I’ve been warning you) to expand (unnecessary) bike lanes and his assertion that cycling will be a “major form of transportation in the 21st Century.” (See bold below)

Mr. Mayor: Define “major.”

Philadelphia’s among the bicycling leaders in the U.S. and slightly more than 2 percent of Philadelphians use it for commuting now. The city hopes to get that up to 5 percent by 2020. I believe we will fail, but even if we succeed, Mr. Mayor, would that be “major” in any version of reality?

The mayor's press release follows:


Philadelphia, January 22, 2013 – Mayor Michael A. Nutter committed the City of Philadelphia to work toward securing a major pro cycling event in 2014 in the wake of an announcement that the current cycling championship has been canceled for this year.

“While we are all greatly disappointed by the cancellation of the Philadelphia International Cycling Championship this year owing to the organizer’s inability to secure a title sponsor, I want all who are devoted to cycling to know that we are committed to working with the very best promoters to develop a complete event in 2014 that will reestablish our city as a world-class cycling destination,” Mayor Nutter said. “As Philadelphia becomes the greenest city in America, we are focusing our resources on increasing dedicated bike lanes and the greater use of bicycles for work and play. In 2014, we will be back with a premier international, professional cycling race, but we’ll also be honoring the importance of the bicycle as a major form of transportation in the 21st Century.” (Emphasis mine)

The Mayor’s comments come at a time of great turbulence in the pro cycling world but also at a time when cycling in Philadelphia is becoming more and more visible. Recently, the City was declared the ninth most bikeable city in the United States and the best city for biking with a population more than one million. And the City of Philadelphia has announced a plan to develop a multi-million dollar bike share program by early 2014.

Over its many years in the city, the Philadelphia International Cycling Championship has spurred growth in the cycling community and the cycling industry and has made the City an international destination for bicycle enthusiasts.

“I want to be very clear about where we are headed,” Mayor Nutter said. “We are a first class city and we deserve a first class pro cycling race that is fiscally sustainable and professionally administered. The City will engage in the appropriate due diligence, conferring with a wide range of people in the racing world to achieve that goal.”