Temple Ambler hosts inaugural cross-campus Bike Tour

Temple’s Ambler campus and Temple’s Office of Sustainability partnered to host the first-ever Temple University Bike Tour on Sunday, April 28. 

About 100 tour participants took off on a 22-mile cross-campus route from Main Campus to Temple Ambler around 9 a.m. passing through scenic parks like Fairmount, Wissahickon and Fort Washington. 

The event, which focused on biking in Philadelphia, aimed to promote eco-friendly transportation options. It also aimed to highlight the benefits of biking for both personal health and community engagement, as well as showcasing the scenic and enjoyable aspects of the city.

“Anyone with sustainability on their mind that wants to be able to potentially commute either doing so by rail could also essentially do it by bicycle between the campuses,” said Kevin Organgers, the deputy director of Ambler.

Participants starting the tour at the Diamond Lot. | OLIVER ECONOMIDIS / THE TEMPLE NEWS

The Office of Sustainability wants to get students and urban commuters open to the different modes of transportation in the city, one of those being cycling. Often, people associate biking in an urban environment with being unsafe, said Rebecca Collins, the director of sustainability at Temple’s Office of Sustainability. 

“What I hope becomes apparent for those who are participating in the ride or even reading about it is that there are ways to bike through Philadelphia that are really scenic and beautiful and dorsal,” Collins said. 

Ron Barbella, a 1990 human biology and 1994 School of Podiatric Medicine alumnus who participated in the tour, enjoyed reconnecting with Temple’s campuses, as he hadn’t been to the Ambler campus since he was a student in the ‘90s. 

Despite some bumps in the road, Barbella hopes to bike the course again next year.

“I ride a lot on Wissahickon and Forbidden Drive, today is [my cousin’s] first time, and once we hit Forbidden Drive, we got two flats,” Barbella said. “It was supposed to be like a social ride, but it was great because it was an epic. We were Temple Tuff today!”

Although Barbella is an experienced cyclist, the tour was open to anyone interested in participating. The tour wasn’t timed, or set up like a race, mitigating any competitive aspect and allowing for participants to simply enjoy the ride.

When cyclists made it to Ambler’s campus, with the first riders crossing the finish line around 10 a.m., they were met with water, snacks and various sustainability and environment organizations, like Clean Air Council and Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, at the Ambler Arboretum. 

Participants prepare to start the bike tour. | OLIVER ECONOMIDIS / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Starting at 11:15 a.m., participants were invited to join tours of the arboretum and Field Station, a Shinrin-Yoku stretch session in the Conifer Garden and remarks at the Learning Center Lawn.

Leading up to the tour, 90 cyclists registered to participate, including Temple students, alumni, community members and faculty, like Collins. 

“The ride that we’re doing is not a ride that I’ve done for a number of years,” Collins said. “So I’m really looking forward to having a very cool [electric bike] that I purchased when I started bringing my son to school by bicycle so I’m actually going to be riding a bike for the first time on this route.”

Originally, Temple’s Ambler Campus and Temple’s Office of Sustainability weren’t expecting many cyclists to join in the first year, especially students and cyclists outside of the Temple community. 

After most participants had made it to Ambler, Temple shuttled cyclists and their bikes back to Main Campus, while others took Regional Rail or extended the tour with another bike ride. 

Tony Berry, a Philadelphia Police Department sergeant, decided to participate in the tour after hearing about it as a community member. 

“I went to different parts of the city I’ve never been to before,” Berry said. “It was awesome and I really enjoyed it.” 

Like Barbella, Berry also hopes the event is scheduled again next year and hopes to participate in the ride again. 

“We maybe got here a little late, but we overcame everything and had a great day socially,” Barbella said. “We kept the pace down to enjoy the scenery.”