MANAYUNK >> It might not be quite time to hit the brakes on the Manayunk bike race after all.
Less than a week after officials announced they were canceling the 2017 Philadelphia International Cycling Classic, an online petition seeking to save the race is quickly garnering support.
The City of Philadelphia, which operates the race, announced it was canceling the race for 2017 due to financial issues, posting the news on the event’s website Jan. 27
“Regrettably, even after extensive fundraising efforts, we were not able to find enough sponsors interested in covering the $1 million cost of the bike race to host it this year,” representatives from the City of Philadelphia Managing Director’s Office stated in the online post.
The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia launched an online petition titled “We Support Bringing Back the 2017 Philadelphia International Cycling Classic” Feb. 2.
The petition, found online at bicyclecoalition.nonprofitsoapbox.com/phillyclassic, is directed to Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney and U.S. Rep. Bob Brady.
“We appeal to you to find a way to bring back the Philadelphia International Cycling Classic this year,” the petition reads. “We fully support the City hosting the PICC on June 4, 2017. The PICC is a terrific event that draws tourists and professional cyclists from around the world and millions of dollars of revenue to the City and small businesses in Manayunk.
“Philadelphians love this race because it puts Philadelphia on the map as a world class city for road cycling and racing and shows off the region’s trail network, the Circuit Trails and its unparalleled Schuylkill River Trail.”
As of early Tuesday afternoon, the petition had received 1,903 signatures, nearly reaching its goal of 2,000 and garnering support from people across the county.
“I have ridden this ride a couple of times. I want to make sure that others have the same chance to ride this wonderful ride in such a beautiful place,” Kristopher Gause, of Santa Rosa, Calif., wrote.
“I’ve attended, volunteered and supported sponsors of this race for 20 years. I am a fan and hope you don’t let this great tradition end,” James Baliko, of Cherry Hill, N.J., wrote.
“Enjoy the bike race annually! Great for the neighborhood and the city. The annual bike race has traditionally spurred people to bike and exercise more before, during, and after the race itself, thus encouraging improved health as well,” Kimberly Cairnes, of Philadelphia, wrote.
“This has been a fantastic event that has become a well-loved Philadelphia tradition. It brings in tourism, contributes directly to the local economy and is a great family event. In addition, I believe that it has grown interest in cycling in and around the Philadelphia area,” David Rohlfing, of Doylestown, wrote.
“This race is a great thing for Philadelphia! It is a classic race, part of the city’s culture and Manayunk’s culture in particular,” Kathleen Scanlon, of Philadelphia, wrote.
The Manayunk Development Corp. has thrown its support behind the petition, encouraging people to sign it in posts on its Facebook page.
The possibility of the bike race returning after being canceled is not without precedent.
In 2013, the race was canceled due to similar financial difficulties. Local groups and legislators, including the Manayunk Development Corp. and Brady, successfully fought to keep the race alive, with the event relaunching with new organizers that year.
The Philadelphia International Cycling Classic — commonly referred to as the Manayunk bike race — is a neighborhood tradition that dates back to 1985. The 124-mile race, notable for its trek up the “Manayunk wall,” has become one of the most prestigious single-day cycling events.
The event, which takes place in early June, was operated by Pro Cycling Tour from its start until the financial issues of 2013. The relaunched version of the event, then called the Philadelphia Cycling Classic, was initially operated by Liberty Sports before the City of Philadelphia took over in 2015 and changed the race’s name back to the Philadelphia International Cycling Classic.