The Backstory and Aftermath of Philly’s Teen Bicycle Freeway Takeover

Hundreds of teenagers on bikes took over a freeway in the center of Philadelphia last weekend. How did it happen? Screencap via jinxedstore/Instagram
Hundreds of teenagers on bikes took over a freeway in the center of Philadelphia last weekend. How did it happen? Screencap via jinxedstore/Instagram

Perhaps you saw video on social media this week showing hundreds of teenagers riding bikes, popping wheelies on a Philadelphia expressway. It was an unauthorized freeway takeover that ought to have brought a smile to even the sourest face.

The Sunday afternoon ride was organized by Corey “Oneway” Murray, a 16-year-old high school sophomore from South Philadelphia. He’s described in a news report as the “LeBron James of biking in Philly,” known for sharing videos of his BMX tricks with more than 94,000 Instagram followers, social media fame that helps him score free bikes. He put together Sunday’s ride to celebrate his birthday, promoted it online, and decided at the spur of the moment to lead the group down an on-ramp to the Vine Street Expressway in Center City Philadelphia.

Earlier this week, police said there were no injuries or arrests related to the unsanctioned bike ride. Yet on Thursday morning, state police arrested an unnamed teenager for organizing the ride and charged him with disorderly conduct.

The arrest came after Murray appeared on Fox 29’s “Good Day Philadelphia” Tuesday morning and identified himself as the ride organizer. In the interview itself, morning host Mike Jerrick delivered a bizarre dressing down of Murray with lots of generalized hostility and condescension toward bikes and young people.

Jerrick started out saying the expressway stunt was too dangerous. “It was too many of us to really get hurt, you know,” Murray replied. “I don’t think no one would really try to run us all over.”

That’s when Jerrick interrupted. “Well, I don’t think anyone really gives a rat’s ass — excuse my language — gives a darn, about if you guys get injured. I think we’re more worried about drivers being injured. All of us being injured, not you.”

That’s right. Today’s story: Local morning news blowhard thinks a group of teenagers rolling on an expressway for a few minutes, Critical Mass-style, is a real threat to motorist safety.

But Jerrick was just warming up.

After co-host Alex Holley told Murray to bike in the park, “where you aren’t obstructing the roadway,” Jerrick decided to attack the teenager’s manhood. He said that because the 16-year-old didn’t yet possess the masculine energy provided by a motorcycle’s internal combustion engine, his attempt at being a “rebel” was less Hell’s Angel and more Pee-wee Herman.

Murray seemed puzzled by the whole thing. “I’m not trying to be no tough guy,” he replied, while the producers ran footage of Pee-wee bicycling.

“You’re on a bike, for God’s sake, Corey!” Jerrick jeered, before making fun of the 16-year-old’s grammar and grades.

At the end of the segment, there was an awkward pause between the two co-hosts. Jerrick, who was suspended earlier this year for foul language, apologized, but not for mocking a local high school student.

“I apologize for saying a-s-s,” he said.

Instead of dwelling on Jerrick, maybe we should end with some words of wisdom from Corey “Oneway” Murray.

“We ride, and people watch us when we’re riding,” he told Spoke Magazine last year. “Some people love it and some people hate it. They just think we’re messing with cars and all that. I don’t care about them. They can say what they want, but they don’t know how it is. It’s just fun.”

  • Vooch

    Great story – heartwarming and beautiful.

    the blight of urban superhighways should be removed and the pre-existing street grid should be restored.

  • Joe R.

    Or if we’re going to continue to have these highways then cyclists should have free access to them just like any other form of traffic.

  • Vooch

    great idea – reallocate one lane for cycling

  • Cali_ExPat

    the kids are alright! I endorse.

    This could be straight out of Saul Alinsky’s “rules for radicals” Keep it up kid.

  • CU

    Shame on those TV hosts! Unfortunately I’m not too surprised, this sort of hostility towards anything bicycle-related is all too common in the US.

    We need to normalize bikes in this country!! #normalizebikes

  • CX

    We should call out bad reporting (especially on transportation other than cars) more often. Jerrick is not the only one to miss or ignore the deeper story and in turn fail to effectively inform the public about their community/city.

  • HamTech87

    The Vine Street Expressway never should have been built. Instead, SEPTA regional rail should have been upgraded to make it like Paris’ RER system. Philly is the #1 bicycling city in the country, and it could be a bicycle, pedestrian and transit paradise.

  • Drew Levitt

    Murray sounds like a good kid. Jerrick sounds like a rat’s ass.

  • davistrain

    Maybe we shouldn’t expect TV stations to say anything positive about bicycles–look at all the ad revenue they get from the motor-vehicle industry.

  • acerttr250

    How dare he threaten the car Utopia!

  • Norman

    This is such a great story. As usual TV stations always don’t give good perspectives.

  • Gregory

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  • J Milan

    Love these kids.

    Just encountered some locally.

    Sure beats dirtbikes, though I sense a rockers v mods thing developing?

  • J Milan

    You mean hostility towards anything that challenges the car industry marketing competitive motorized violence.

  • J Milan

    The real story here is their independence from bike lanes.

  • Corvus Corax

    One part of a rat’s ass.

  • Keith Schenck

    HE WAS JUST AS ORGANIZED AS THE NEWSIES THE NEWSPAPER BOYS IN SEVERAL CITIES HAD A NETWORK MIKE JERRICK COULD LEARN A THING OR TWO OR THREE FROM THIS EXPERIENCE LIKE BIKE-ATHON HE COULD SEE HIS FUTURE MAY NOT BE NEEDED AS MUCH …THESE DUDES ARE BAD ASS THE GIST OF BEING BOWERY BOYS CAGNEY DEEN AND THE LIKES ….DIDN’T HAVE TO DIE GANGSTERIZED OR SENSATIONALIZED BUT DON’T HAVE TO BE MARGINALIZED THEY WERE HUGE..I MEAN HUGE MEATBALLS……COULD LEAD TO A HALFTIME SHOW SOMEWHERE AND WAY MORE INTERVIEWS AND VIEWS SINCE THEY HAVE A NETWORK=NETWORTH #sorrymikewebike

  • Keith Schenck

    didn’t sound like that about Banksy or heck we have the entire “Philadelphia” Mural Arts Program was taken away from Anti-Grafitti Network from the inside and flip inside out to look elite when it started it was a social movement

  • Brown Bear Billy

    People outside of Philly don’t really know just how dangerous and annoying these kids are. They are constantly riding down Broad St, a big major street, on packs weaving in and out of cars, doing wheelies through red lights and, worst of all, riding in packs TOWARDS traffic. I’m all for these kids riding bikes instead of being idiots on the street but don’t be wreckless. Don’t ride your bike down a friggin highway where cars are normally speeding non stop at 60 miles an hour.

  • Kelley Collins Hickey

    Both of these newscasters should be banned from interviewing without a script, I am appalled that they were allowed to go on so long condescendingly mocking him. What pieces of crap try to humiliate and tear down a 16 year old like that? Jerrick should be fired, what a clearly horrible human being to place in a position of the public’s daily view/opinion! Now I’m gonna go “like” Corey “Oneway” Murray online!

  • Isaac B

    The young man understands “safely in numbers”. It’s not the pack of people walking or cycling who get hurt or killed. It’s the solo person on an isolated stroad who does.

  • Vooch

    streets are for people

    people are traffic

    bikes are traffic

    cars need to drive walking speed whenever people are about

  • Joe R.

    I’m not sure what the problem is here. If the highway had a bike lane, as it should, then they would have been separated from speeding cars. If anything, this is a call to start putting bike lanes on highways.

  • Brown Bear Billy

    That’s fine. I too ride my bike. But I don’t ride it on the highway. The highway isn’t for bikes. And again, I might not care if they weren’t jerks the rest of the time.

  • Vooch

    sure – I am taking a rather ‘advanced’ position, but I’ll argue that urban highways are a atrocity and anything to hinder the dangerous speeds of cars within cities is desireable

    outside of cities -no speed limit on superhighways let the cars runs free

  • Brown Bear Billy

    But the highway doesn’t have a bike lane….because it’s the highway and not a city street. The 2 are very different. I’m not about to rant and stand in anger because there isn’t a bike lane on the highway. And that’s because philly is bike friendly and I can get practically anywhere without taking the highway on a bike. There is a street with a bike lane that runs parallel to the highway. No reason to go down the high way other than to cause a fuss. I will stand with bikers until the day I die. But when you’re wreckless and ride your bike down the middle of the highway, then you’re silly.

  • Joe R.

    I think you’re missing the point. I can’t speak about Philadelphia because I don’t live there, but bike lanes on urban highways would be extremely useful in large cities like New York. The fact there may be bike lanes on surface streets doesn’t mean they’re useful for longer trips if they’re on streets with lots of traffic signals and other obstacles. Highways for bikes serve the same purpose as highways for cars. They enable longer trips to be done much more rapidly.

    There’s also a fundamental issue of fairness here. Urban highways in general are a blight on the cities they pass through and mainly benefit people driving to suburbs. At least if they had bike lanes they would be somewhat useful to city residents as well.

  • RedMercury

    There’s a difference between “safety in numbers” and “mob rules.”

    As for this case, yup. The kids need to be disciplined for this. Some small fine should do it–maybe just a stern talking-to.

    Years ago, I worked at a radio station. At one point, one of the jocks on one station linked up with one of the jocks at another station and they had an amusing chat and played a song–simulcasting. As the program director for the station I worked at said, “It was funny! Never do it again.”

    I appreciate youthful exuberance. I’m sure it was amusing and I’m glad that no one got hurt. I take the attitude that “kids will be kids” and it’s not all that big of a deal if it happens once.

    It is a big deal if it keeps happening.

  • Joe R.

    A stern talking to makes more sense. Any fine is really going to be a fine on the parents, not the kids, so I’m not sure it will teach them anything. I doubt many of those kids have jobs or the ability to pay even a small fine. I know I didn’t at that age. I didn’t even get an allowance.

  • Tyson White

    Worried about DRIVERS getting injured. Wow, what an ass!

    Spoken in the tone of an old man who doesn’t know how to communicate with young people (“What do you study in school? English?”)

  • Michel S

    Well, if we had more of them here in Philadelphia and they were protected so vehicles couldn’t double-park in them, maybe more people would use them. We’re working on it, but getting the City on board is slow-going.

  • Southeasterner

    It was a Sunday. No reason urban highways, designed for moving workday commuters, shouldn’t be open to other uses. It’s a giant dead space.

    DOTs should be a bit more open to re-purposing urban express ways (especially dedicated express lanes) for alternative weekend use.

    I think Eisenhower would have taken Murray’s position over Jerrick as he never wanted highways to be built through urban centers in the first place.

  • I LOVE how personally the newscaster took this story. He literally told this kid that “nobody gives a rat’s ass if you get hurt” and then somehow construed the hair-brained logic that the bikes would injure people in the cars…on the freeway. HOW? And then he spends the remainder of the interview making fun of a child. AMAZING! I have a new young person to look up to. Thanks Streetsblog!

  • Corvus Corax

    At least they were wreckless!

  • kclo3

    But Vine St doesn’t have any sort of bike lane, it’s purely a traffic sewer with speeding cars and 3 lanes per direction. Without clearly delineated and protected bike lanes, all the rules on handling bike-car conflicts are instantly flouted. It’s disgraceful there isn’t an east-west bike lane in northern Center City.

  • Jeremy
  • George M

    I called Fox 29 to complain about the segment and had many of my fellow bike

    commuters do so as well. While getting on a freeway might not be the best idea, the discussion needs to be about why all of these roads are inaccessible to bikers, not about drivers being “offended” by losing their right of way; ridiculous.

    If anyone else wants their contact info to help flood their line with complaints, here it is:

    FOX 29
    330 Market Street
    Philadelphia, PA 19106

    New Feedback Phoneline: (215) 982 5500
    fox29.programming@foxtv.com

    They need to know that in 2017 they can’t run these kinds of bike-smearing, car-centric segments. Especially given the tragic recent rise in pedestrian/biker deaths from distracted driving.

  • newshuman

    At the risk of sounding like a crank, these kids and their rides are incredibly dangerous. Just this past weekend while riding down the 2nd ave bike lane, a hoard of hundreds of them took over the avenue, completely shutting it down. Having taken part in Critical Mass rides, that didn’t bother me. Instead it was the dangerous nature of it. I saw them rear ending cars (and me, on my bike, for that matter) and plowing into pedestrians. I physically moved my bike in front of an elderly couple to help them cross the street as these selfish kids barreled through dense traffic against the light.

    I’m all for making a statement that the roads aren’t just for cars, but these rides are no “statement.” It’s simply a bunch of lawless kids hoping to cause trouble and it hurts any chances of legitimizing bicycles.

  • newshuman

    These kids do nothing for legitimizing bikes as transportation. I’ve seen it too many times. It’s dangerous and perpetuates the idea that bicyclists are lawless and deserve no bike lanes.

    Don’t accuse me of being a crank. I do critical mass. This is purely critical selfishness from idiots who just learned how to do a wheelie on a child’s bike.

  • Good point. On a street, this kind of mass riding is be antisocial if it involves running lights and making pedestrians scamper.

    But on a highway, this act is liberating and positive, because it illustrates the need for space to be given to us on those well-maintained long-distance non-stop roads.

  • I reckon they weren’t wreckin’.

  • Joe R.

    My feelings exactly!

  • eldondre

    It doesn’t illustrate that at all.

  • You are right that that expressway should never have been built. The only appropriate place for a highway in a city is at the periphery, not through the centre.

    I agree also that Philly is a great biking city. I have visited a number of times, and I am so impressed with the bike infrastructure there. Also, believe it or not, the drivers are much better behaved than New York drivers. I sure didn’t expect polite behaviour from the town famous for booing Santa Claus; but I found that drivers in Philly heed my hand signals, and that they exhibit much less aggression than New York drivers. (I am not sure whether this means that Philadelphians are civilised or that New Yorkers are savages.)

  • Isaac B

    I agree that overall, this is not great behavior and should not be encouraged.

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