Whatever your stance on religion, if there’s one thing we can all probably agree on here, it’s the gospel of the bike. Bicycles are more than just a high-performance toy. They are an effective mode of transportation all around the world. Due to his positive stance on more environmentally friendly modes transportation, Pope Francis was presented with a custom Breezer Downtown 8 by Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and the Philadelphia Bicycling Advocacy Board to commemorate the Papal visit.
Designed by Breezer bikes with graphics by the head of ASI’s graphic design team, Amanda Dirksen Catanzaro, custom metal accessories from Carl & Rose, and paint by Toronto-based VeloColour, the Downtown 8 was chosen by Mayor Nutter due to its positioning as a “people’s bike.” Along with the gift to Pope Francis, Breezer’s parent company Advanced Sports International also donated 100 bicycles to Bicycle based Community programs in Philadelphia.
Philadelphia, PA (September 22, 2015) – Mayor Michael Nutter and the Philadelphia Bicycling Advocacy Board today presented the gift of a custom commemorative bicycle to Pope Francis on the occasion of the Papal visit to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families on September 26-27. The bicycle was received by Archbishop Charles Chaput at a ceremony held at the Philadelphia Convention Center.
Designed by Breezer Bikes – a brand owned and operated by bicycle company Advanced Sports International, which is headquartered in Philadelphia – the bicycle was created to celebrate Pope Francis’ advocacy for environmentally responsible modes of transit. In conjunction with this gift, 100 bicycles have been donated to bicycle-based community programs in Philadelphia.
In his second encyclical, Laudato si’, the pope calls for a shift in social consciousness about the way we live, with references to transportation and more livable cities. The reasons for this shift are not only environmental, they are innately social. Moving from an automobile-centered system to one in which walking and biking exist in harmony with public transportation enhances human relationships and fosters greater social equity within our communities.
“A simple bicycle offers not just healthful exercise but access to employment, education, and health care,” said Mayor of Philadelphia Michael Nutter. “The bicycle is a true champion for all, regardless of socioeconomic or cultural background, gender, age, or any perceived limitations. Getting places under their own power gives people an enhanced sense of their individual potential and greater hope about their lives.”
A commuter-style bike, a “people’s bike,” was chosen by Mayor Nutter (pictured above) and the Philadelphia Bicycling Advocacy Board as a symbol of the many benefits of cycling. The bicycle is a zero-carbon alternative. It is often called “the noblest invention.”
“We are humbled to have this opportunity to honor Pope Francis and his work on behalf of livable cities and his appreciation of the bicycle as a means to create a better, more sustainable environment,” said Karen Bliss, chair of the Philadelphia Bicycling Advocacy Board and VP of Marketing at Breezer Bikes/Advanced Sports International.
The bike is a Breezer Downtown 8, an easy-to-ride, easy-to-operate bike, designed for getting comfortably and efficiently around city or town. While Pope Francis’ Downtown 8 features a custom paint job and chain guard, the frame is the same frame available to consumers.
The founder of Breezer, Joe Breeze, designed and built the first mountain bikes in 1977. He is also known as a leader in the U.S. development of bicycles for transportation in the 2000s.
“The bicycle is a great tool for humanity, giving us personal mobility in a clean and sustainable form,” said Breeze. “In fact the bicycle is the most efficient form of personal transport ever devised. What’s more, it helps connect people and communities and brings us health and joy. People who get places on bicycles know well that riding clears the mind, enhances thinking, and leads to new connections and insights.”
The Breezer Downtown 8 is equipped with Shimano’s internally geared Nexus 8-speed drivetrain, making shifting easy and smooth and giving the bike its clean aesthetic. Wide tires absorb road bumps, and a comfortable saddle makes the ride enjoyable. A chain guard and fenders protect clothing from grease and the elements, and a rear rack can be used for carrying groceries, bags, or briefcases.
The Pope’s bicycle also bears the creative graphics of Amanda Dirksen Catanzaro, head of Advanced Sports International’s graphic design team. Catanzaro enthusiastically embraced this project, for which she could combine her Fine Arts major and faith-based education with her everyday job.
Starting with a clean, papal white frame, Catanzaro created elements to honor the Pope, including his name in his native Spanish language, Papa Francisco, on the top tube. She chose the Pope’s crest for the head badge, fabricated in brass by Toronto-based artists Carl & Rose.
Other symbols she placed on the bike include a Cross, a Holy Candle, a Peace Dove, and the colors of the Swiss Guard. As a tribute to Philadelphia, Catanzaro placed a Liberty Bell and a “PHL Made” logo on the seat tube.
One of the most distinguishing details is the chain guard. Custom designed and fabricated by Carl & Rose, the metal chain guard takes the shape of an angel’s wing.
“I wanted an element on the bike that represented a spiritual aspect central to the Pope’s life and career,” said Catanzaro. “It is my hope for him that as he continues to travel and teach that he will be bolstered by his faith, that he will experience the security and strength that comes from leaning on God,” she added.
The bicycle was hand-painted by Toronto-based design company VéloColour, which is owned by craftsman Noah Rosen.
In addition to the commemorative bike, Mayor Nutter and the Philadelphia Bicycling Advocacy Board, in cooperation with Advanced Sports International and Breezer Bikes, have donated 100 bicycles to these and other Philadelphia community programs that use bicycles to achieve their mission.
The Philadelphia Bicycling Advocacy Board is an advisory board to the Mayor of Philadelphia that counsels about ways to enhance bicycle riding and bicycle infrastructure in and around the City of Philadelphia. Started by an Executive Order in October 2014, the PBAB is made up of experts inside and outside the City who are passionate about enhancing the lives of Philadelphians by improving their bicycling experience.
Advanced Sports International (ASI) is a privately held American corporation headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with additional sales offices in Mutlangen, Germany; Taichung, Taiwan; Dong Guan, China; Durban, South Africa; and Huntington Beach, USA. ASI owns six premium cycling brands: Fuji, SE, Kestrel, Breezer, Phat Cycles, and Oval Concepts. ASI manufactures, markets, and distributes its products through a global network of specialty bicycle retailers that reaches 80 markets worldwide.
Breezer Bikes was founded in 1977 by Joe Breeze, a machinist, framebuilder, designer and bicycle advocate. He is credited with building the first modern mountain bikes and with launching a U.S. transportation bike movement. Breezer today produces mountain bikes and patented components that dramatically improve the quality of off-road riding, as well as a complete line of award-winning transportation bikes.
VéloColour is a custom bicycle painting shop in Toronto that specializes in contemporary bicycle refinishing and vintage frame paint restoration. Owned since 2008 by Noah Rosen, VéloColour has painted and worked on custom-built bicycles that range from vintage Cinellis, Colnagos, Rene Herses, and Singers to modern carbon fiber road and mountain bikes. Rosen has a BFA from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and a diploma – major in ceramics – from Sheridan College.
Carl & Rose is the creative company of Suzanne Carlsen and Noah Rosen, both award-winning artists. Noah is the man behind VéloColour bicycle painting, and Suzanne is a multi-talented craftsperson and designer. Together, they produce functional items, objects, and installations based on their unique vision. Playful, colorful and made with care, Carl & Rose creations infuse every environment with a little extra joy. Carl and Rose is color, quality, and Canadian-made.