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Jack Minore: May is National Bike Month!

jackminoretourdecrimjpg-4943581e7e9f0443

Jack Minore at the 2014 Tour deCrim

frt_logoMay has been designated as National Bike Month and if you’ve been curious about getting on a bicycle for the first time or the first time in a long time, I would like to share the experience of riding our Flint River Trail on one of our Sunday rides.  Most of us can remember the joy of bicycling as a kid – a great pastime and sport.  But the resurgence of cycling among adults in recent years has been nothing short of phenomenal.  In the 18 years that we have been riding with Friends of the Flint River Trail, the increase in the numbers of people out riding is remarkable.  It started out as a few friends peddling together and has grown to dozens and dozens.  The Friends of the Flint River Trail had our first ride of the season on May 3rd and what a turnout! More than 70 cyclists strong, including Flint Mayor Dayne Walling.

Flint River Trail Wayfinding Signage

Flint River Trail Wayfinding Signage

Did you know that Michigan has more miles of trails than any other state in the Union?  Over 12,000 miles of trails await family and friends, group rides, cycling tours and races.  Personal enjoyment and competitive sports are only two values of cycling.  People are increasingly using bicycles for transportation, increasing the demand and use of bike lanes.  A study by the League of American Bicyclists conducted between 2005 and 2013 found that Michigan has experienced a 66% increase in the number of people commuting by bicycle.  Moreover, a huge percentage of our errands two miles or less – and what could be more pleasant than a bike ride, not to mention quicker, cheaper, and healthier?

FFRT logoIn addition to recreation and transportation, the health benefits of bicycling (and of trails, generally) has been studied extensively. You can read more about the benefits of bicycling in this brochure by our friends at the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy: Health and Wellness Benefits.  Numerous studies show that communities with trails have lower levels of obesity and diabetes.  That, of course, is especially true of communities where the weather makes year around use of the trails and of cycling is common.

Helmets

Helmets are STRONGLY ENCOURAGED!

Finally, the economic impact of trails and greenways are sometimes readily apparent as in the case of trailside businesses. but they are sometimes a bit more subtle.  There are companies that decide to move to a particular community because of amenities like trails, greenways and public access to waterbodies. Studies indicate that property values on and adjacent to trails increases quite dramatically.  Businesses along trails also experience growth related to the presence of trails. There is no question that communities across Michigan are enjoying an economic revitalization due in part to public access to trails and greenways. Check out “Investing in Trails: Cost-Effective Improvements for Everyone,” another Rails-to-Trails brochure that illuminates the growing evidence of the positive economic impacts of trails.

Jack and Bruce

Jack and Bruce: Ready to Ride!

I would also like to share a few observations about our own group: the Friends of the Flint River Trail.   Over the past few years, we have averaged about 35-40 riders every Sunday during the summer and those riders come from – on average – about the same number (35+) different zip codes over the year.  We have family oriented pleasant recreational rides of about 10-12 miles every Sunday – May through October – starting from the OLD Farmers’ Market at 2:00 PM.  Helmets are STRONGLY ENCOURAGED!   There is no fees or membership requirements:  just come along and enjoy the ride.

The last ride of National Bike Month is Sunday, May 31st.  Won’t you join us?

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