Some Manayunkers hit the wall over bike-race rowdiness

Posted: June 01, 2011

Spectators drawn to Manayunk and Roxborough this weekend for Sunday's bike race be warned: Rowdy and drunken behavior will not be tolerated this year.

City and police officials yesterday promised to rein in some of the out-of-control partying now associated with the race by more aggressively enforcing laws like those barring public drunkenness and carrying open containers of alcohol.

Besides more officers on the street, the city is also introducing a "Night Bike Court" on Friday to deal immediately with law breakers.

"It's not the race - it's people's behavior during the race," said Manayunk Development Corporation Executive Director Jane Lipton.

The TD Bank Philadelphia International Cycling Championship, now in its 27th year, attracts riders from around the world. It also draws thousands of spectators who watch as riders make 10 loops along a 14-mile course. Perhaps the most coveted perch to watch is along Lyceum Avenue, where riders take on the so-called "Manayunk Wall."

In its early days, the race was a more family-centric event. But in the last 10 years, the side effects of the race have gotten too hard to handle, said Kevin Smith, president of the Manayunk Neighborhood Council.

It's gotten so bad that some residents wonder if the race shouldn't be moved, he said.

"It gets a little bit worse every year," he said. "It just has to get turned around. People would rather lose the bike race and get their quality of life back."

But, he noted, the bike race may be symptomatic of a larger problem in the neighborhoods.

"We basically have this problem every Friday and Saturday night," Smith said. "It's a loss of quality of life for neighbors that makes this a difficult place to live sometimes."

Race organizer David Chauner, president of Pro Cycling Tour LLC, said that no participants have complained about bad behavior on spectators' parts.

"Riders have said they make it up the 8th, 9th, 10th time because so many people are cheering for them," he said. "In a way, we're victims of our own success."

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