This weekend, the streets of Philadelphia will be swarmed with tourists seeking proximity to Pope Francis during his historic U.S. visit. Cars will mostly be banned during the pope’s visit, so the throngs must get around the city by public transportation or on foot. Or perhaps via bike.
And if bicycle is your preferred mode of transportation, the truest of papal fanatics might consider a specific kind of two-wheeler — a Breezer Downtown 8 commuter-style town bike, just like the one the Pope will be gifted upon his arrival in Philly.
Presented to Archbishop Charles Chaput during a ceremony at the Philadelphia Convention Center Wednesday morning, the Pope’s new wheels are enviable but understated; a “people’s bike for the ‘People’s Pope,'” as Philadelphia’s mayor, Michael Nutter, put it. The bike has been pimped out, pope-style, with some custom holy touches, including a hand-painted white body, a brass head badge in the shape of the Pope’s crest, angel-wing-shaped chain guard, and the words “Papa Francisco” written across the top tube, according to a press release. But the lay among us can buy the same basic gist from the Philadelphia-based bike manufacturer Breezer Bikes for somewhere in the $500 to $600 range.
Pope Francis is still moving around Washington, D.C. in a tiny black Fiat as of Wednesday afternoon, but he’ll likely be pleased by the gift (though the surprise, no doubt, is ruined). The Pope has been vocal about the virtues of a bicycle as a humble and environmentally-responsible mode of transport in the past. In fact, this is hardly the first time he’s been given one. Pope Francis should also like that the gift of the bike in Philadelphia comes with a pledge by the city to donate 100 bicycles to community programs.