Forget what you know about potholes and rude bus drivers. Philadelphia is a great bike town. That’s what the editors of Bicycling magazine say, and they’re backing up their claim by making the city one of its designated BikeTowns for 2005. What that means for you, beyond a quick flash of pride, is the chance to win a brand new Fuji bicycle by writing a 50-word essay on how it will change your life.
The BikeTown program began in 2003, when the magazine gave away 50 bikes in Portland, Maine. The idea, says Bicycling publicity director Chris Brienza, was simple—to get more people to ride bikes. “What happens a lot,” says Brienza, “is people learn how to ride a bike, they ride through their teen years and then they get a driver’s license. People forget what it's like to ride a bike.”
The Portland launch was a success, with the bike recipients—who checked in periodically with Bicycling editors—reporting weight loss, better health and closer relationships with their families. Last year, Bicycling upped the ante, with 250 bikes handed out in five towns around the nation. This year, the number of towns benefiting from the magazine’s largesse—or rather, sponsors TIAA-CREF and Shimano—goes up to 20.
Some of the towns were selected because, as Brienza puts it, “we think we can move the dial” to make them more bike friendly. Others, like Philadelphia, Seattle and Madison were chosen because they already have good infrastructures in place for bike commuting.
At Penn, 50 bikes will be given away.
If you want to be in the running for a brand new Fuji Kyoto road bike, go to www.bicycling.com/biketown and click through to the entry form where you’ll be asked to describe, in 50 words or less, how a new bike will change your life. Whether you plan to use it for commuting to Penn or exploring the trails where you live, make your case compelling, says Brienza. “Basically, you need to tell us why we should give you a bike.”
The cut-off date for entries is May 16. Once the winners have been selected, a mid-June giveaway event will take place on campus where, along with the bikes, the victors will make off with helmets and locks and other gear. “Then they’re off to explore the world,” says Brienza.
For more information about the BikeTown program, go to www.bicycling.com/biketown.
Originally published on May 12, 2005