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.”

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