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DC Bike Party cruises through campus

Published February 16, 2023


Illustration by Deborah Han

Just before 10 p.m. on Feb. 8, over 700 people dressed in tutus, prom dresses, and tuxedo t-shirts rode bikes, roller skated, and hover-boarded across campus. Students cheered on the bikers as they made their way through the front gates, under the tunnel at New North, down the hill to Leo’s, and past Cooper Field. 

Confused students turned to Flok for answers, commenting “this stoner bike race seems lit af” and asking for updates about a hurt biker. A few students correctly identified the organizers behind it: DC Bike Party.

Lia Seremetis started the DC Bike Party 11 years ago as a more light-hearted alternative to Critical Mass, a social movement that organizes bike demonstrations in cities to draw attention to bike accessibility.

“Critical Mass is more of a ‘let’s take over the streets and stick it to the cars,’ whereas Bike Party is more of a celebration of bikes and trying to advocate positivity and bicycles and just good fun for everyone,” Bike Party volunteer Sam Scruggs said.

Bike Party organizers throw themed bike parties every month of the year with the goal of spreading joy. Participants bike between eight and 10 miles, with a brief dance break halfway through and an afterparty at a local restaurant or bar. The group always meets in Dupont Circle, but the route changes every time. 

Last week’s theme was Rom-Com Prom. “In a world where nerdy girls take off their glasses and suddenly become hot, you can learn to love again on the magic of prom night,” DC Bike Party explained on an Instagram post. Those lucky enough to witness the party were also serenaded with classic dance tunes blasting from two sound vehicles.

Volunteers test out party routes before hundreds of people join them in the official parties. “We tried to go through Georgetown last year, but we couldn’t find an exit,” Scruggs said. 

This month, the group finally found a route through campus; however, organizers had predicted a significantly smaller turnout. “We were expecting three to four hundred people and we had 750,” Scruggs said. “With the smaller rides it can be fun to experiment with tighter routes. It was too big of a group to do this route.” 

Among student spectators, word spread quickly that one biker had been hurt on the steep hill in front of the Healey Family Student Center. “Everybody is okay,” Scruggs said. “There was a wreck and then somebody else crashed in that same spot.” 

According to several bikers, two riders were seriously injured.

DC Bike Parties can take over bridges and block traffic, occasionally leading to run-ins with angry drivers. “I had somebody pull a baseball bat out of his car on Wednesday,” Scruggs said. DC Bike Party holds trainings for volunteers to learn de-escalation techniques. 

Most of the time, however, it’s hard for drivers to stay angry at a group of lit-up bikes playing classic ABBA and Bruno Mars songs. Partiers “have described it as empowering,” said Scruggs. “It’s freeing and joyful seeing the energy we bring.”

 

Editor’s note: This article was updated on March 31 to accurately reflect the lack of medics and correctly define the number of injured persons.



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