Cycling The City’s Border

November 7, 2013 |  by  |  Buzz  |  ,

 

The 72 mile bike course on the city's border | Image: Googlemaps, courtesy of Shawn McKenna

The 72 mile bike course on the city’s border | Image: Googlemaps, courtesy of Shawn McKenna

What do you do while waiting–sans device–in the massive jury duty holding room? If you’re like Shawn McKenna, you dream up a “potentially brilliant/disastrous idea:” to circumnavigate the city on bike. “I started drawing it and realized that (a) it is probably possible to do pretty accurately with some exceptions (can’t exactly ride on 95 in the south), (b) not a lot of people are probably that familiar with the whole city, and (c) it seemed pretty neat,” he told me by e-mail this morning. So McKenna, a market researcher and a triathlete, and his buddy James Huth–and perhaps some others–will ride the 72 mile border of the city on Saturday morning.

The route, says McKenna, is “a surprisingly accurate rendition” of the city’s shape, the history of which Hidden City writer Steve Currall explored recently HERE.

For McKenna, it is a chance to see and experience parts of the city he isn’t familiar with. “A lot of people,” he says, “tend to stay in their neighborhoods or a few neighborhoods and if they do see other areas of the city, they tend to drive, and when you drive, you never pay attention.”

Despite the carefully laid out route, McKenna expects to have to improvise along the way. “I have no clue what the challenges will be as we have not done this yet, and as we have never done this and have never been to certain sections of the city that we plan to ride,” he says. Still, there are stops planned: at Cadence Cycling in Manayunk, McKenna’s girlfriend’s parent’s house in Mount Airy, “a bar somewhere in the NE, and we know the owners…” The ride will end where it begins, at Yard’s Brewery, where the cyclists will be joined by friends for an afternoon of beer.

About the author

Hidden City co-editor Nathaniel Popkin’s latest book is the novel Lion and Leopard (The Head and The Hand Press). He is also the author of Song of the City (Four Walls Eight Windows/Basic Books) and The Possible City (Camino Books). He is also senior writer and script editor of the Emmy-winning documentary series “Philadelphia: The Great Experiment” and the fiction review editor of Cleaver Magazine.



6 Comments


  1. Sounds like lots of fun , I hope they put out a more detailed map so others may follow.

  2. Use the PA bike routes if you get lost / stuck in a high traffic area.

    http://www.bikepa.com/routes/

  3. Awesome and ambitious idea. :-)

  4. Walkable Princeton

    This is so weird…just this afternoon I was checking out how many miles it would be to cycle around the border of our town, Princeton NJ! (22 miles, if anybody’s interested!)

  5. My computer algebra system (Maple) worksheet based on 27 key data points for a polygonal approximation to the perimeter leads to 67.2 miles for the approximate circumference of the boundary.
    http://www3.villanova.edu/maple/misc/philly/index.htm

    dr bob at Villanova University Dept of Mathematics and Statistics

    so the question is, how true is the bike route to the actual perimeter? 5 miles difference seems too signficant.

  6. Hello Robert Jantzen,

    Being a human and all, I can’t ride a perfect polygonal approximation.

    I rode it; it came out to be 68 miles. If Maple wants to join us next year, she is more than welcome.

    Thank you,
    Shawn

Recent Posts
A Look Inside Gilded Age Parkside

A Look Inside Gilded Age Parkside

April 18, 2014  |  Morning Blend

A tour of a nearly intact Victorian mansion in West Philly, two civics explore the possibility of creating improvement districts, Stotesbury Gateway to be remade, and cleaning up Clark Park > more

Widdy Dialect: The

Widdy Dialect: The “Hoagie” Of Darts

April 17, 2014  |  Makin' It

Under the rumbling El and amidst the hustle and bustle at Kensington and Somerset, a distinctly Philadelphian brand of darts is made the same way it has been for over 100 years—by hand. Brad Maule throws a round with Widdy Darts > more

New PWD Project To Teach Children Ecology & Technology

New PWD Project To Teach Children Ecology & Technology

April 17, 2014  |  Morning Blend

GreenSTEM systems to be installed in four schools, the inequality of urban pollution, jazz month in Philly, parklets being installed in West Philly, and terrible timing in closing Kensington store > more

A Last Look at Second Baptist Church

A Last Look at Second Baptist Church

April 16, 2014  |  Last Light

The demolition of a former house of worship in Northern Liberties has provided a glimpse into the building's history > more

PATCO Announces $7.5 System Upgrade

PATCO Announces $7.5 System Upgrade

April 16, 2014  |  Morning Blend

Clearer information and working escalators for PATCO, delays in UC student housing development, the William Penn Foundation’s new approach to safe watershed awareness, and what the Lower Northwest invented for the world > more

A Golden Glow For <em>The Inquirer's</em> Saffron

A Golden Glow For The Inquirer’s Saffron

April 15, 2014  |  News

Yesterday, the Pulitzer Prize board announced its 2014 winners. After 15 years with a watchful eye on Philadelphia's built environment, the Inquirer's Inga Saffron won journalism's highest award for criticism > more