This post has been updated.
On a recent Friday evening a group of cyclists cruising through the intersection of 15th and P Street NW in downtown Washington were greeted with a pleasant surprise: a boisterous spirit squad lined both sides of the bike lane, cheering on every biker as they passed through.
No, this wasn’t Tour de France, or even a local cycling race, for that matter. These were just regular folks on their bikes, cheered on by other regular folks who simply wanted to show some love to fellow cyclists and bike commuters.
“Tour de Bike Lane DC” is a group with about 450 members on its Facebook page. About four times a year, members pop up at a busy bike lane, lining the curbside to cheer on cyclists.
“If you have never done one of these, it’s HUGE FUN, so bring any noise makers (bells, horns, whistles) and beverages, lots of beverages,” reads the event description on Facebook.
The event is the brainchild of David Confer, a native New Yorker who moved to D.C. in 2005. When he first arrived, he found the city’s bike community to be “fragmented and cliquey.” In New York, Confer said, bikers “know each other. It’s tight.” In the District, it was just “couriers and commuters,” but no community of “bike people” as such. So he set out to change that.
As an avid biker (he owns 16 bikes, and runs a bike shop, Fathom Custom Rides“), Confer has a deep appreciation for bikers on the road. He likes that they’re not using Metro, or Uber, or driving their own cars.
“I figured these people deserved a little bit of recognition,” Confer said. “I thought it’d be fun to cheer on people while they come down the bike lane.”
Since last spring, when Confer hosted the inaugural Tour de Bike Lane with about 10 other people, the cheer squad has grown to some 50 tp 60 people. Seeing the sheer joy of bikers as they pass through the cheer squad is what “totally makes my day,” Confer said. “That’s why I do it.”
At the most recent edition of Tour de Bike Lane DC, cyclists beamed with huge smiles as they rode down the bike lane, showered with cheers from a crowd of lively, spirited onlookers.
One guy rolling through pumped his fist triumphantly, as if he had just clinched a Tour de France victory. Another guy took his hands off the handlebars, stretching out his arms to get high-fives from both sides. One woman in a colorful tie-dye tank stuck out her legs, as if she were doing a straddle jump on the trampoline, her mouth wide open in happy astonishment.
Not everyone got cheers, however. One guy, caught red-handed riding his moped down the bike lane, grimaced sheepishly as someone gave him the thumbs down.
Update, June 23: After this post ran, we heard from a reader who pointed out that a similar event was held in New York in the fall of 2012. According to a photo posted on a Facebook and shared by the reader, a group of New York cyclists met up after work one night, grabbed some beers, and gathered around a bike lane on 2nd Avenue in midtown Manhattan to support bikers coming by. “We cheered on and even offered water in marathon style to those who needed. We then called this ‘The Tour De Bike Lane.’ Cyclist loved the energy and we even got some local pedestrians to join in,” reads the caption of the photo.
(Bang Photography / For The Washington Post)