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A nonprofit working to create a bike route that runs the entire East Coast is relaunching its inaugural fundraiser: a two-wheeled adventure from New York City to Philadelphia.
The 130-mile group ride spanning the course of two days was originally set for May 2020, but then got postponed by the pandemic. Now the East Coast Greenway Alliance has set new dates and added a virtual participation option.
More than 300 people are already signed up, according to communications director John Martin, and organizers are making COVID safety a priority.
Participants who opt for the in-person edition will start in Manhattan on Saturday, Aug. 28, stop in Princeton for an overnight campout, then pick up and arrive in Philly on Sunday, Aug. 29. You can also register to do the ride remotely.
About half the planned route is separated from motor vehicle traffic, Martin told Billy Penn last year, but the other half follows regular car and truck roadways. During those stretches, cyclists will be accompanied by guides, or even police, at some heavier traffic points.
The need for escorts underscores the goal of the Alliance, which says only about 35% of the envisioned 3,000-mile East Coast Greenway is on protected or separate bike lanes.
To Martin’s knowledge, about 60 people have biked the entire thing, from the Canadian border in Maine to Key West, Florida.
A lot more work is needed to finish the connections in the Mid-Atlantic region, according to former Alliance content manager Lisa Watts, who said that was the impetus for the event. N.J.’s Meadowlands is especially challenging, she said, noting that a federal grant providing a lot of funding for work in the area had run out.
“A lot of the bridges are hard,” Watts said. “That’s been part of the issue in New Jersey.”
Philadelphia is considered one of the bright spots on the Greenway, and for cycling advocacy in general. Local partners for the ride include the Philadelphia Department of Parks and Recreation, Independence Blue Cross, AmeriHealth New Jersey and the William Penn Foundation.
Participation in the August ride isn’t cheap: $150 per person, plus a commitment to raise at least $600 from supporters by the date of the event. Tickets include a t-shirt, baggage transportation, snacks at rest stops along the way, lunch, and opening and closing festivities. Registration is now open.
Virtual riders can sign up for $100 plus a $400 fundraising commitment, which includes a gift box that includes a t-shirt.
More than $70,000 has been raised so far, according to the event website. If all the spots are filled, the ride would bring in more than $250k for the Alliance — a pretty big boost for an organization with an annual budget around $1.2 million.