Battle Creek

Battle Creek rolls out the biking events for National Bike Month

The month of May is National Bike Month and Battle Creek’s Bicycle Advisory Committee has planned several activities that they hope will inspire people to get on their bikes and ride.

Getting those bikes road or trail-ready is keeping Mike Wood, owner of Team Active, a full-service bike store in the city’s downtown district, plenty busy.  Wood says that May is one of his busiest times because the weather makes for better riding conditions.

He says there are several aspects that he could talk about when highlighting the many reasons for biking, including the health benefits and the positive impact it has on the environment, but he says the joy factor is at the top of his list.

“The number one thing is fun,” Wood says.  “Everybody loves to get back to their childhood and that feeling of riding their first bike.  For many people, riding a bike was their first taste of freedom.  For the adults, it gives you that feeling again of being able to go out and bike again.”

While having a month devoted to the bicycle is important for the awareness it raises, Wood says he’s been a fan for a long time.  He started his bike business in 1986.

“I’m in mid-50’s and I’ve been in the bike industry for over 40 years.  It’s been a part of my life for my whole life,” Wood says.  “I’ve seen lots of changes and ebbs and flows and different styles of riding become popular like mountain bikes.”

The city has Bicycle Friendly Community silver status from the League of American Bicyclists. Battle Creek first earned bronze status in 2014. The committee and city team continue work to improve our bike amenities. There are just 12 Bicycle Friendly Communities in Michigan – four silver, and eight bronze.

Wood says he thinks drivers are becoming more aware that any non-motorized mode of transportation, whether it be walking, running or biking, needs to be respected.

“Those who use non-motorized modes of transportation have the same rights as anyone else on the road,” he says, “and everybody needs to need more respectful and aware of what’s going on around them.

“My theory is that kids who start riding their bikes at a yon age to school or practice become better drivers because they’re more aware.”

This awareness is being increased on other fronts, including through a Non-Motorized Transportation Plan that city leaders are working on.  Some of the goals of this plan include, establishing Battle Creek as a non-motorized friendly community, and to be implementation-oriented and serve as a guide for non-motorized trail, bike lane, and route signage planning, funding, design, and construction.

The plan lists many benefits of non-motorized transportation infrastructure, like providing safe routes to school, improved health, pollution reduction, and improved quality of life.

Wood says he thinks the bike trails that have been established and those in the works will greatly benefit the community and the region.

To keep the momentum going, the city’s Bicycle Advisory Committee has planned the following activities that will take place rain, snow or shine:

• Sunday, May 5 is the Fort Custer Stampede Race, an event from the Southwest Michigan Mountain Biking Association. Categories are Elite, Expert, Sport, Beginner, and Kids. Races begin starting at 10 a.m. in the Fort Custer Recreation Area in Augusta. See swmmba.com for more information.

• Wednesday, May 8 is Walk/Bike to School Day, organized by the National Center for Safe Routes to School. While the committee is not organizing activities on this day, members ask all area schools to encourage their students to walk and, especially, ride to their schools on May 8 and throughout the school year. For details on joining in on May 8 or participating at other times, contact your child’s school. 

• Monday through Friday, May 13-17 is Bike to Work Week, and all neighbors in Battle Creek are encouraged to ride to work this week, and anytime.

• Bike to Work Day is Friday, May 17, with two organized rides starting at 7:30 a.m. The South Route starts at Culver’s on Beckley Road, and the North Route starts at the entrance to Bailey Park. Both routes end downtown at Mike’s Team Active Bikes. If you ride to work this week, post a selfie – created safely – and your mileage to social media! Tag the city on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, and use the hashtag #BiketoWork2019

• Thursday, May 16 is a Slow Roll. Join this leisurely, approximately 90-minute ride on the Linear Park path. The ride starts at 5:30 p.m. at the Kool Family Community Center, 200 W. Michigan Ave.

• Wednesday, May 15 is the Ride of Silence, a worldwide event that honors those who have been injured or killed while riding bicycles. The city’s local ride will begin and end at Willard Beach Park, off George B Place. Please arrive at 6:30 p.m. The ride starts promptly at 7 p.m. The approximately 9-mile route travels through the Lakeview area.

• Saturday, May 18 is a Specialized Demo Day, hosted by Mike’s Team Active Bikes. Come to the Eagle Lake pavilion at the Fort Custer Recreation Area to try rides on a variety of bikes. Join the fun from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Anyone can test a bike, and there is no charge. Children under 18 must have a parent or legal guardian present. Please have photo ID and a credit card to check in.

Along with these events, neighbors and visitors will see the BCycles return to the racks at Kellogg Community College, Riverwalk Centre downtown, the Kool Family Community Center near downtown, and in Old Lakeview on Capital Avenue SW. Use a BCycle bike this month to attend Spring into the Arts, set for 3-9 p.m. Friday, May 24, along the Linear Park path downtown.

Read more articles by Jane Simons.

Jane Simons is a freelance reporter and writer with more than 20 years of experience and also is the owner of In So Many Words based in Battle Creek. She is the Project Editor for On the Ground Battle Creek.
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