Though critics complained that June’s inaugural Phoenixville Criterium suffered from too much heat and too little planning, the borough will reboot the race for a 2013 return, the council decided at last night’s meeting.
Despite concerns raised by one member, the borough council ultimately unanimously approved a July 11, 2013 date for the race.
West Ward member Dana Dugan expressed frustration with the execution of last year's event and wondered why the council had to vote to approve its sequel ten months before the starting gun. Borough manager Jean Krack said the date isn't set in stone, and reminded Dugan that the problems with last year's race were in part a function of short notice.
After the vote, Middle Ward representative Jenn Mayo, the race’s strongest advocate on council, acknowledged last year’s Criterium was imperfect but said it shortcomings will be addressed.
“The business owners felt it was a good event but it just needed to be managed better and advertised better. And we all agreed on that,” Mayo said, recounting a mid-summer meeting she had with representatives of the Chesco Grand Prix—the cycling body that organized the race—and several borough businesses.
Mayo admitted that, because of the unusually short period between the race’s approval and the starting gun—18 days to be exact—the Criterium was deficient in a host of areas. It didn’t have adequate volunteers, race marshals, refreshments, or invites to VIPs.
She added that the first race’s looping course, its design also something of a last ditch effort, has been improved as well. The complaint several borough businesses had with June's route, Mayo said, was that they suffered the consequences of Bridge Street being shut down for the day—which discouraged regular weekend customers from coming out—without getting the benefit of extra foot traffic from the course passing their shops.
To address that concern, this year’s course will pass more borough businesses.
“It will include all the main parts of Bridge Street, from Columbia all the way down to Starr,” Mayo said.
The timing of the race should also be more conducive to commerce. While last year’s race was on a Saturday, which is generally a day when visitors come to shop anyway, this year’s race will be held on a what would otherwise be a sleepy Thursday night. It will also be shortened from the all-day event of last year to a 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. running.
“It’ll bring people downtown who wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the bike race,” Mayo said.
Gentlemen, start your engines...err, your pedals.