So we’re making our 6th trip to the Philly Bike Expo and we’re just starting to crack this nut. Our first visit to Philadelphia was during a freak Halloween snowstorm that hit the northeast. Interstate 95 was a winter bumperland and our first booth was a tent outside the Armory. It was a terrific test for our new rain capes and we met the kind of people who ventured out in the weather. We saw the Brotherly Love but not much of the City.
Every year we see a little more. The bike shop parties get us off to a good start. We do a lot of walking and bike riding (we really appreciate the Indego bike system they rolled out in ’15). It’s a city of neighborhoods with a palpable civic pride. Philly has more fountains, public sculptures and public art than any other American city, according to the Smithsonian’s count.
What jumps out is the street art. In 1984, the city supported artist Jane Golden’s innovative Mural Arts Program. It was quite ingenious. Instead of fighting the city’s graffiti artists they encouraged them by offering more productive artistic outlets. Jane began working with at risk teens. Together, they began to paint murals in the city and were trained in practical working skills. The program grew, and the Mural Arts Program has created over 3600 murals so far.
Art and bikes seem to go well together if you’re paying attention. We get a good sense of that collaboration in Philly. An agent of positive change is the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia. Thanks to their good work and that city’s civic pride, Philadelphia has more people commuting by bicycle, per capita, than any of the other ten biggest cities in the United States. That’s a proud achievement.
“We take our work seriously. But riding a bike is fun – we don’t let the fact that it’s convenient, healthy, green and affordable distract from the pure joy of it.”
— Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia
We credit Bina Bilenky for turning us on to Philly. She’s done a terrific job of making the Philly Bike Expo one of the East Coast’s bests and every year its gotten better. We’re hitting town (Nov. 4-5) with renewed enthusiasm not to mention a variety of new styles and ideas. There’s our new CleverZipster with the dramatic reflective grid of our Electric series. It’s bike-ready of course and made in nearby Fall River, Mass. Dog people can check out our new Cleverpup line and rain capes for doggos. We’ve got a new surprise design to share as well. Look for some good show deals and swag. There’s a good emphasis on “artisans, activists and alternatives” here.
Philadelphia is a lot like a big Providence. Both cities played notable roles in early US history. The City of Brotherly Love — that’s Greek for Philadelphia — has a diverse population and fosters creative expression. Providence is no slouch in that department, it’s the Creative Capital after all. We have neighborhoods, lots of good restaurants, an industrial legacy, and a neighboring city that’s a bit overshadowing, too. It’s taken a while, but we’re starting to get a good sense of the place and it feels a lot like home.