The fourth annual Halloween Bike Ride was hosted by Bike Temple this past weekend, providing costumed riders with a group trek from Main Campus to Laurel Hill Cemetery in celebration of Halloween, which is this Thursday, Oct. 31.
The group was comprised of some plainly dressed but mostly scarily-costumed bikers. Those joining rode congregated with their bikes at the Bell Tower at 3 p.m.
Enthusiasm grew as many participants commented on the cloud-free, sunny day. Participants said that they enjoyed the opportunity to bike for fun.
“I love biking but I don’t bike with people, usually,” colorfully-dressed senior film major Kara Lieff said. “I only bike as a mode of transportation and I haven’t biked for leisure in a long time.”
After forms of responsibility were signed and helmets were loaned out to those without their own, the group departed with two police aboard bikes to help navigate through traffic. Helmets were provided courtesy of the Office of Sustainability’s Bike Temple program, which orchestrated the event.
The group’s plan was to ride their bikes to Laurel Hill Cemetery. Bikers took 12th St. up to Fairmount Avenue until it met up with the Schuylkill River Trail. Most of the paths taken had a bike lane.
As costumed biker gang made their way west in the city, they passed run down buildings, abandoned homes and overgrown vacant lots. Playing into the Halloween theme, the Eastern State Penitentiary turned some heads on Fairmount Avenue. As the group started nearing the Schuylkill River, homes became more spaced and patches of trees appeared with leaves revealing fall colors.
“Basically, everyone just rode to the cemetery,” senior environmental studies major Katy Amen said. “It was more about the act of the cycling community than anything else.”
Katy was wearing a bat costume that she stitched together herself.
The group was able to ride along the Schuylkill River Trail. Since the Head of the Schuylkill Regatta Open rowing event was being held on the Schuylkill while they biked past, the riders received more cheers than expected.
Shortly before 4 p.m., the last of the pack made it to the nationally-landmarked cemetery. The group then continued to ride leisurely around the cemetery gardens. They did not travel very far since the gates were set to close at 4:30 p.m.
This did not leave them with much time to explore the over 81 acres, but it was not a problem.
“Cemeteries used to be a place where people went to hang out – I’m saying they used to be, back in the day,” said Rob Gage from the University Office of Research. “Many famous people were buried there from the sports announcer Harry Kalas, to mayors and civil war veterans.”
Rob was dressed as Walter White, a costume with close attention to detail.
Event organizers said the event was a resounding success for all of the riders who participated.
“We had one fall, courtesy of the 12th St. trolley tracks, but no one was seriously hurt or had to sit out,” Bike Temple Coordinator and engineering student Blake Larson said. “Everyone on the ride had a good time and we were pretty well-received by our fellow Philadelphians on the street, too.”
Toby Forstater can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.