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I Love Riding in the City

NAME: Sam Sitrin
LOCATION: Philadelphia, PA
OCCUPATION: I help run a drop-in center for chronically homeless people by day and agitate to change the system that makes them homeless by night.

Where do you live and what’s it like riding in your city?
I live in West Philadelphia. Whether I’m biking the 8 miles to Kensington midnight or midday; bag loaded with condoms and clean syringes to distribute to ladies doing sex work; or biking two miles, shoulder aching from carrying protest supplies to a rally on AIDS funding; biking in Philly comes with as many cloudless and lovely days as demented dodges past car doors and smiling surprising strangers who don’t blow stop signs.

What was your favorite city to ride in, and why?
Tempted as I am to romanticize Philadelphia because of the love I have for its skyline and lack of hills, a good half of my rides are composed of cursing while playing dangerous leapfrog with buses. Yet, there is a particular joy that comes from navigating through dangerous scenarios on my way to doing HIV prevention. I love getting where I need to go with a little dirt between my teeth and a reliance on no one but myself. Biking in Philly makes me feel even more like the Superhero/Freak I always dreamed of being.

Why do you love riding in the city?
I love that I don’t have to worry how I am going to get across town when I am finished with work. When I am done with my paid job at Prevention Point, the syringe exchange site and drop-in center, my ride takes me through the streets where the people I work with live and spend their time. It gives me an intense, uncomfortable and necessary perspective on what conditions are like for a lot of folks.

Or just say whatever you want about riding in the city…
Ever ride through the city at 5am?
The sky above the bridge rises like some lunatic robins egg, splattered with goose colored clouds, the blue breaking like a rigid crack against the black river.
Every day when I cross Broad and Spring Garden I dive between food trucks and rush hour traffic and community college students.
At 5am I throw both of my hands into the air above my head, ride with my body stretched out, no need to hover with hands near brakes.
The only shock is an occasional “Attack of the Zombies” flashback, the sudden fear of a dead city, that the silence is permanent, and the stillness a sign of some terminal disease that has been sneaking through darkened windows across the city while we slept…

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