Byko bikes - Believe it!

Columnist Stu Bykofsky tearing along Boathouse Row, doing research for this report on bicycling. JENICE ARMSTRONG / DAILY NEWS STAFF
Columnist Stu Bykofsky tearing along Boathouse Row, doing research for this report on bicycling. JENICE ARMSTRONG / DAILY NEWS STAFF
Posted: June 20, 2012

LOOK OUT! It's biking Byko!

Friday afternoon, just days after bicycle rentals resumed at Lloyd Hall on Boathouse Row (and elsewhere), Your Favorite Columnist became Your Favorite Bicyclist to enjoy riding on a sidewalk legally along Kelly Drive, where bicyclists, walkers, joggers, skaters, hopscotchers, etc. share the same path. I could almost hear Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World" humming in the blooming trees along the fragrant (Canada goose droppings) drive.

For the second summer in a row, I boarded a bike to have some fun (and enrage bikeheads who don't believe I can ride and who think I hate cyclists). I don't — I was accompanied by one, my coach, colleague and friend Jenice Armstrong, who's such a strong biker she's done the Manayunk Wall.

It was fun and safe, although Armstrong (no relation to Lance — or Louis) thought it was a bit expensive.

Wheel Fun Rentals' hourly rates start at $10 for cruiser bikes (one gear, pedal brakes), $12 for city bikes (three gears, hand brakes), up to $30 for a double-surrey (six adults and two small children). Is that a bike or a bus?

I didn't think it was too expensive (but this was on my expense account). We took the 21-inch city bikes.

Although it may aggravate the pedalphiles, I survived, with only minor pain.

From the seat, for instance, shaped like a triangular cake-server. It hurt me, you know where. "That's why they have bicycle shorts," said coach Armstrong. "They have padding."

Note to self: Next time, cruiser bikes. They have padded saddle seats.

We were in no particular hurry, but when I had trouble overtaking a female jogger, I shifted to a more productive gear. We were often passed, but only half the bikers gave the courtesy shout-out of "passing!" No big whoop. Funny were the speeders decked out in helmets, wraparound shades, tri-color Spandex, dressed as if they were competing in the Tour de France. Does Fairmount Park remind you of the French Alps? Funky was the young couple sitting side-by-side in a $20 deuce coupe. "Is it fun?" I asked as I rode by. "Yes," he replied, "but exhausting."

Armstrong, that romantic, suggested I take a lady friend out in a coupe. I'd want to test her leg strength first.

The above probably brought smiles to the bikeheads. What follows probably won't.

Just before a May 29 City Council hearing to talk about giving Council authority to approve bike lanes — as opposed to bike lanes being plopped down by the mayor wherever he likes — the Greater Philadelphia Bicycle Coalition sent out an urgent notice for bikeheads to show up at the hearing to "support Philadelphia's need for sensible, not burdensome, bicycle legislation." I have yet to see a bike-control rule it does not consider burdensome. And probably fascistic. And fattening.

The alarm said, "This bill would make our streets less safe" — it didn't say how — "and give Philadelphia the dubious distinction of being the best city in the country at creating bureaucratic road blocks for new bike lanes."

Translation: The 97.1 percent of Philadelphians who don't commute by bicycle will get a say and we don't want that.

Awww. The bill passed, unanimously. Now Council must OK any bike lanes that require the removal of a parking lane, a travel lane or both.

Alex Doty, executive director of the coalition, set his mood ring to "spin" and said that "We can live with this" and that bike lanes should not be in a neighborhood "if they truly don't work."

He and I agree on that. Do I hear Louis Armstrong?

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