Second Annual Tour de Dayton Rolls On
By Jennifer Hanauer
You want to be out and enjoying these glorious summer days, and you want to do something different and you want to take some of the energy off the top of these kids on summer break before you break through your patience threshold. Whatever shall you do with your Saturday? Come experience Dayton as the Wright Brothers intended – by bicycle! It’s too beautiful outside to say “No.”
Tour de Dayton is an annual bike event that promotes the neighborhoods, culture and history of Dayton while also supporting the means for a healthy and active lifestyle. The idea for the event originated through a small group project at the Neighborhood Leadership Institute (NLI), a 12-week educational experience run by the city in conjunction with Sinclair Community College and Greater Dayton RTA as a way to educate citizens on how to be good leaders. The NLI Alumni Association (NLIAA), a 501(c)(3) non-profit, sponsors Tour de Dayton.
“We were inspired to run a cycling tour through Dayton that introduces citizens to a lot of our little gems in the city while promoting cycling at the same time,” said Lea Wise-Surguy, a member of the NLIAA and one of the event’s organizers. Participants will be led to sights relating to business, cultural, historical, recreational and geographical points of interest all the while engaging in a physical activity that encourages a lifestyle that is both healthy and family-friendly. A lot of it is street cycling to help get familiar with actually riding on the streets, helping to make Dayton citizens more urban cyclists.”
Last year’s tour led approximately 150 riders to locations such as Carillon Historical Park, the Dayton Art Institute, Paul Laurence Dunbar House and the Dayton Fire Station. A raffle, which included items such as bikes, gift certificates and concert tickets, was held with support from local businesses. The first 50 registered riders were given tickets to that day’s Dragon’s game. Roughly 20 percent of the participants were new riders and were introduced to urban cycling and guided on how to be responsible and safe cyclists. The great success and response Wise-Surguy along with fellow organizers, Gerald Shields, Rachel Barnett, Ken Arnold, and Sean Dougherty experienced with last year’s event were leading causes for the growth of this year’s tour.
This year’s tour will take place on Saturday, August 4. Registration will be held from 9:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m., and participants should expect to spend between one and three hours on the tour. After registering in Burns-Jackson Park, participants will be entered in a free raffle for prizes such as restaurant tickets, t-shirts from Feathers and Dragon tickets. Dayton’s Yellow Bike program will be bringing about a dozen bikes that participants can pre-register for if they would like to participate but do not own a bike. From the park, small groups will set out on the cross-town adventure. Volunteers and registered nurses will be on hand throughout the tour, and volunteer police officers will help direct traffic at the more complicated intersections and difficult to understand corners.
Covering roughly ten miles in a lolling loop around the city, the path this year will wind through several neighborhoods in Dayton including downtown, Webster Station, South Park, the Oregon District, Springfield (also called the North Mad River Business Corridor), Twin Towers and St. Anne’s Hill. This designated path will highlight some of the options Daytonians have for downtown dwelling. “We have a lot of great places to live. We want to show that downtown is an incredibly viable place to live, work, play,” said Wise-Surguy.
The first half of the tour will include the recently renovated Patterson Park, The Neon, the Convention Center and the Life Enrichment Center, which will also serve as the midway point and snack stop. The snacks at the midway point, which will be from the market again this year, will feature fresh ingredients and will be preservative-free and sugar-free. “With our stops we focus on healthy living,” said Wise-Surguy. “We also, as much as possible, try to purchase locally to help support the economy here in Dayton.”
The second half of the tour will highlight H David Clay Studio, Drake’s Gym, 2nd Street Market, High Street Gallery, Ghostlight Coffee, Emerson Academy and the RiverScape MetroPark Bike Hub. A special emphasis will be placed on the hub and the great resource that it is to Dayton bike commuters. “We want to let people know that we have a cycling location for them to park, have a shower before they go in to work. Our bicycle trails and paths are one of the largest in the United States, so we have a huge opportunity for cycling commuters,” said Wise-Surguy.
Tour de Dayton expects to have upwards of 200 participants this year, a 30 percent increase from last year’s event. Organizers are looking forward to more growth in the following years. “Eventually we’d like to add a racing element that would be sort of an additional route,” said Wise-Surguy of future Tour de Dayton plans. “But this year it’s just about the stops.”
The Future of Biking in Dayton
Biking in the Dayton area has enjoyed a period of growth in the past several years. Extended and connecting paths have created a network of bikeways that are some of the largest in the country.
“The bike paths here are really an under-appreciated gem that many cities would envy,” said Tiffany Whitten, a downtown Dayton resident and avid cyclist. “We have access to literally hundreds of miles of connecting paths. I can start at RiverScape and end in Troy or Cincinnati or Yellow Springs.”
Our system of bike paths and the development of our hubs and other cycling-related resources may be one of the keys to a better quality of life for Daytonians. By promoting commuting by bike, Daytonians will benefit from reduced traffic congestion and transportation costs while also enjoying increased health and wellness. In research conducted by the League of American Bicyclists (LAB), a bicycle-friendly community will also experience higher property values, business growth, and increased tourism.
“Over all, the biking infrastructure is really impressive,” said Whitten of Dayton’s bikeways. Being outside and experiencing our natural world is a huge draw as well. “We get to be along the river for a good portion of the trails and be exposed to so much nature. I literally got a field guide to identify birds. We have a crazy amount of wildlife. On any given ride I can see blue heron, sand pipers, rabbits, deer, possum, beavers, ground hogs, I once saw a pelican and I’m told we even have an otter or two out there somewhere,” said Whitten.
The LAB has awarded Dayton a bronze level bicycle-friendly status, meaning we’re on the right path but still have many improvements to make before we reach the platinum level. Contributing to our award status is the City of Dayton 2025 Bicycle Action Plan, a layout composed in 2011 by Dayton’s Department of Planning and Community Development. This plan outlines Dayton’s vision and goals along with our current efforts and plan development. The full plan can be viewed here: www.cityofdayton.org/departments/pcd/Documents/CityofDayton2025BicycleActionPlan.pdf
When asked about top bicycle-friendly communities that Dayton might model itself after, Wise Surguy said, “Look at places like Berlin or Sweden or Boston. You can see some really great cycling infrastructure. They have specific lanes, sometimes even a little offset from the car lanes for a little more safety, lights that are set up specifically for the bicycles, special lights added to let us do left turns.” With these added safety measures, Dayton cyclists could have a less stressful ride. “We wouldn’t be fighting with all the traffic; it would make it an easier ride,” said Wise-Surguy.
The palpable draw of a more active lifestyle and increased involvement in one’s community is not lost on Wise-Surguy. “Cycling is becoming more of a part of Americans lives,” said Wise-Surguy. “We live in a changing world. We have more focus on our local communities, on health, on economy. To help integrate cycling into the Dayton lifestyle we have to have more focus on our speaking out about it, supporting the causes for it, speaking to our mayor, to our commissioner, to our state representatives about adding more bicycle features to our city, our suburbs, our urban locations, more routes to our river corridor. We need to support things, the transportation bill, find out what their specific funding is. Do we want it to be for more motor vehicles, or do we want there to be more focus on pedestrians and cycling?”
With all the benefits provided by walking and cycling as an alternative to using motor vehicles, the answer to Wise-Surguy’s question is clear. So, gear up, Dayton. It’s time to ride!
Get a Fill-Up, Get a Tune-Up, Get a Bike!
Whether you need to outfit yourself with all of the latest cycling gear or just need to put some air in those old tires, check out some of Dayton’s locally-owned bike shops to get equipped before your ride.
506 Wayne Ave.
Dayton, OH 45402
K & G Bicycle Center
116 W. Franklin St.
Centerville, OH 45459
4090 Marshall Rd.
Kettering, OH 45429
594 N. Detroit St.
Xenia, OH 45385
Links & Kinks
1128 N. Broad St.
Fairborn, OH 45324
122 W. Main St.
Tipp City, OH 45371
The Village Cyclery
110 Dayton St.
Yellow Springs, OH 45387
For more information about Tour de Dayton or to pre-register for the event, go to tourdedayton.com.
Need a map of Miami Valley’s bikeways? Curious about what the Bike Hub has to offer commuters and bike enthusiasts? Looking for cycling activities, classroom sessions, or programs? Visit www.metroparks.org/GetOutside/Cycling.aspx.
To learn more about what’s being done on a national level for biking advocacy and how you can get involved, check out both America Bikes at www.americabikes.org and the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals at www.apbp.org.
At a Glance
When: Saturday, August 4. Registration will be from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. The tour will take one to three hours depending on experience level and involvement at each stop.
Where: Registration will be held in Burns-Jackson Park at 410 Buckeye St., Dayton 45410, behind Emerson Academy in South Park, and the tour will make an approximately ten-mile loop around the city and conclude back at Emerson Academy.
What to bring: Bike, Helmet, Water Bottle, Sunscreen
Who: All ages, All levels
Reach DCP freelance writer Jennifer Hanauer at email@example.com