Daily News Bike Curmudgeon Stu Bykofsky to Lead Massive City Bike Ride

This is not a joke.

In the category of Things We Would Have Never Seen Coming in 10,000 Years, there’s this: Stu Bykofsky — yes, that Stu Bykofsky, the Philadelphia Daily News columnist who famously hates cyclists — announced today that he’s hosting a bike ride. Actually, “hosting” isn’t even the right word; he’s the grand marshall of the first-ever Byko’s Safe Bike Ride, in which cyclists are required to follow all the rules of the road. Naturally.

And to be perfectly fair to Stu, he doesn’t hate cyclists per se: “I do not like bad bicycle behavior,” he told me yesterday. He added, “I do not think we need bike lanes — they’re a waste of space.” 

With those details off his chest, Stu is prepping to serve as grand marshall — he’ll wear a sash and all — for the Byko Ride on Saturday, May 7th at 11 a.m. He’s teaming up with local cyclist Alexandria Schneider, whom you may remember from the erstwhile PopeRide, which Schneider also led and which brought a sea of cyclists out to enjoy the closed city streets while Pope Francis was in town last fall.

Stu and Alexandria first connected shortly after the PopeRide, when Stu mentioned her in a column titled, “Cyclists Are Never Satisfied.” It was basically rant against what has become the Open Streets PHL movement, an effort to recreate the car-free streets that most everyone (except Stu, apparently) enjoyed during the papal visit. “Please note the mainspring for the idea of turning swaths of the city over to cyclists is Alexandria Schneider,” Stu wrote in October. “She lives in Horsham.”

Yup, both of those things are true. Back when Stu published his piece, I actually reached out to Alexandria and asked if she’d like to comment about it. She politely declined, but two months later, in December, she wrote back saying she was cooking up something super secret with Stu himself — a follow-the-rules ride, of sorts — and she’d be in touch with details soon.

I learned from Stu yesterday that Alexandria had actually reached out to him via Facebook after his column and was good humored about the mention. Alexandria herself told me, “I’ve been reading his column since I was a young teenager, so I personally took it as a badge of honor.” In their exchanges, the idea for the follow-the-rules ride eventually emerged, and soon the Bicycle Coalition was looped in. A few more details later and, boom, Byko’s Safe Bike Ride was officially on the books.

The goal, as you can probably guess from the name, is to put together a massive group bike ride (Alexandria is hoping for around 200 cyclists) in which every single participant follows the rules of the road. That means no running stop signs. No riding on sidewalks. “Stop at the fucking red lights,” Stu said. Helmets and other padding are optional, but Stu said he’ll be donning the whole safety getup.

Speaking of gear, Stu told me he doesn’t actually own a bike, so he’ll be looking to, ahem, borrow/rent one from a willing local bike shop. Why not just ride Indego, you might be wondering? “They’re so heavy,” he said. (He’s right; they are.) “I rode once and I couldn’t get it to go fast enough. I thought it was me — I’m terribly out of shape — but afterward somebody told me you can’t make good speed on the Indego bike. I missed every single light.”

The ride, which will begin at Dilworth Park, will clock in at just over 11 miles, and includes time on city streets and in Fairmount Park. Afterwards, there will be a party at McGillin’s Olde Ale House in Midtown Village. The ride costs $20, but you’ll get a t-shirt and all proceeds will go to Stu’s charity of choice, People’s Emergency Center.

Although there won’t be any official ramifications for cyclists who shirk the rules and, say, run a red light, I’m willing to wager that if Stu sees you do it, he’ll holler at you. You may even end up at the center of one of his forthcoming columns.

“My goal with this ride is that there will be no fatalities. No major lacerations. No chafing,” Stu said. “And we’ll get some good exercise, and a lot of money will be raised for the People’s Emergency Center.”

Go here to get more info on Byko’s Safe Bike Ride.

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