The cycle continues

Miami Valley celebrates National Bike Month

By Tor Simms

Photo: James Carter, Lucy Sanchez, Amy Dingle and Dan Sahli take a ride at RiverScape during National Bike Month 2014; photo: Jordan Hart

National Bike Month was established in 1956 by the League of American Bicyclists. Since its inception, it has grown to become a national month-long holiday. The goal of National Bike Month is to celebrate biking as an alternative means of transportation, promote a healthy lifestyle, reduce our carbon footprints, save money and explore our communities. The celebration has become so popular that the U.S. has seen a 100 percent increase in bicycle commuting over the past decade. National Bike to Work Week, one component to the month-long celebration, takes place May 11-15. The overwhelming majority of large cities in the U.S. participate in this event, and in some cities participation is expected to be in the tens of thousands.

Randy Ryberg, Five Rivers MetroParks’ cycling coordinator, works with numerous cycling organizations during the month of May and also participates in many of the classes that the MetroParks offers. Ryberg explains why National Bike Month is such a big deal in Dayton.

“The Dayton region possesses the largest off-street paved connected network of trails in the United States,” he says. “There are a little over 330 miles of trails that wind through the Miami Valley. The first trails were built in the 1970s and they have been expanding ever since.”

Montgomery County alone has 70 miles of paved, multi-use trails and six bikeways. Multi-use trails can be used for cycling, walking, running, rollerblading, hiking, backpacking and even cross county skiing.

Montgomery County’s biking legacy is sustained by The Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission, another crucial entity that supports Dayton’s National Bike Month. The commission works with Five Rivers MetroParks and other regional organizations in the funding, planning, building and maintaining of the Miami Valley’s bike trails. Regional Planner Kjirsten Frank Hoppe works on active transportation projects at MVRPC, and is currently updating the regional Bikeways Plan to include even more connectivity among the Dayton area’s bike trails.

“[Since the initial trails were built in the ’70s,] the network grew piece by piece, so that now we have the nation’s largest network of paved off-street trails,” Hoppe explains.

And the MVRPC has big plans in store to continue expanding on Dayton’s bike-friendly mission.

“Using MVRPC funds, the City of Dayton will be installing more bike lanes, bike parking and will be filling the gap in the Wolf Creek Trail,” Hoppe says. “The City of Kettering will add bike lanes, paths, and connect more neighborhoods to the Iron Horse Trail. Fairborn will be extending the reach of the Huffman Prairie Path through their community with on-street and off-street bike facilities. Beavercreek will be adding side paths, and Bellbrook and Riverside will both build new Safe Routes to School connections.”

And the list goes on.

“Piqua is striping bike lanes along State Route 36 and adding facilities in their downtown, connecting to the Linear Park and Great Miami River trails,” she continues. “Huber Heights will improve side paths along Chambersburg, that should also connect to the Great Miami River trail. The Creekside Trail and sections of Wolf Creek will be resurfaced, and the Great Miami Trail (west bank) will be extended south from the Courtyard Mariott/UD arena area.”

Hoppe also mentioned that MVRPC is a proud supporter and sponsor of the LINK Dayton bike share program that will launch this month, making bikes available for members to ride short distances in the downtown area.

In 2010 the League of American Bicyclists designated Dayton as a bike friendly community. Shortly afterward, they recognized Dayton as a bronze level bicycle friendly community and Dayton is currently applying to upgrade its status to silver level. The process is conducted by The League of American Bicyclists, which accredits cities around the country, looking for specific criteria that meet its standards. The minimum accreditation is being recognized as a bike friendly community, followed by bronze, silver, gold and the highest level, platinum.

Lucy Sanchez, one of Five Rivers MetroParks’ outdoor recreation events coordinators, handles many of the larger local events that go on during National Bike Month in Dayton.

“We promote and assist in at least 23 events during National Bike Month in Dayton,” Sanchez says. “We try to use these events as catalysts and motivational tools. We want to encourage people to get outside of their comfort zones and do something they’ve never tried before.”

Sanchez is certain most novice cyclists will find riding the local trails to be an enjoyable experience.

“Many of our trails are on riverways and almost all of them are scenic, which makes for some very enjoyable rides and our trails are unique in the amount of activity they get as well as the connectivity of our trails,” she says.

And during the Miami Valley’s celebration of National Bike Month, there are plenty of ways to get out and ride – whether you’re a newbie or a pro. Several local employers are sponsoring bike-to-work programs, listed here.

Lexis Nexis Bike to Work Week

During Bike to Work Week, May 11-15, Lexis Nexis encourages its employees to bike to work. Those who do are eligible for a variety of prizes and contests. On Bike to Work Day, employees ride together to Five Rivers MetroParks for the annual pancake breakfast.

Wright Patterson Air Force Base Bike to Work Day

On May 13, Wright Patterson hosts the longest running bike to work day celebration in the Miami Valley with its 20th annual Bike to Work day.

University of Dayton Fly Ride

Lunch is transformed into a ride from the University of Dayton’s RecPlex to Lincoln Park and back. The time and date for this event have not yet been determined.

Wright State University Bike to Campus Breakfast

On Wednesday, May 13, students and faculty members are invited to participate in National Bike Month by riding to the university’s student union and then enjoying a free breakfast at the Atrium.

During the month of May, Five Rivers MetroParks will conduct a series of lecture-style classes that introduce new bicycle riders to the rules, laws, equipment, and terminology that will keep them and their fellow riders safe and in tune with cycling culture. Classes are normally conducted at Wegerzyn Gardens MetroPark or Cox Arboretum.

Fundamentals of Bicycle Touring

Thursday, April 30: Cyclists will be exposed to the basics of touring responsibly. Fee: $5

Fundamentals of Bicycle Commuting

Wednesday, May 6: For the do’s and don’ts of bicycle commuting, and route planning. Fee: $5

Women’s Cycling Fundamentals

Saturday, May 16: Women are encouraged to learn about safety and etiquette before they take to the bikeways. Fee: $15

Throughout the entire month of May to celebrate National Bike Month, organizations around the Miami Valley team up and put on a wide range of events for both the experienced and novice rider. Be advised, helmets are required for each event.

Bike Bucks at the Market

Every Saturday in May, the 2nd Street Market encourages you to ride your bicycle to the market. Each Saturday, riders can sign up for a drawing to win $50 in Market Money that can be spent at the market.

Bike for the Health of It

Every Saturday in May there will be a group bicycle ride to and from chosen destinations. The rides usually go on rain or shine.

May 2 – Ride from Great Miami River Bikeway to Kyle Park from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. This is a 16-mile ride.

May 9 – Ride from Wegerzyn Gardens MetroPark to Radvansky Lane Bridge from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. This is a 16-mile ride.

May 16 – Ride from Rob’s Restaurant in Brookeville to Verona from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. This is an 11-mile ride.

May 23 – Ride from Huffman South Park to RiverScape MetroPark from 9-11 a.m. This is a 14-mile ride.

May 30 – Ride from Rip Rap Park to Island MetroPark from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. This is a 15-mile ride.

Courteous Mass

On the first of May everyone is welcome to meet up at Fifth Third Field at 5:15 p.m. to go on a ride and tour Dayton and some of its community gardens. The Courteous Mass normally meets once a month throughout the year.

Wegerzyn Bike Rodeo

On Saturday May 9, from 9 a.m. – noon, students will get the chance to ride with the MetroParks Ranger Division through a safety course. Bicycle technicians will be available to perform any needed bicycle maintenance.

Go With the Flow Yoga – Bike Edition

On Tuesday, May 12, from 6-7 p.m. Tori Reynolds and her collaborator BJSR invite you to ride your bicycle to RiverScape MetroPark and join them in their unique Vinyasa yoga class. They have created a rare blend of music and yoga that is certain to be a very unique experience.

Five Rivers MetroParks’ Bike to Work Day Pancake Breakfast

This event is often considered to be the peak of National Bike Month in Dayton. On Friday May 15, ride to RiverScape MetroPark and enjoy a free pancake breakfast. There will be live entertainment as well as numerous displays.

41st Huffman Spring Classic

On Sunday, May 17 at 8 a.m., the Dayton Cycling Club will lead a tour of southwestern Ohio, starting at Wax Park in Moraine. There will be a choice of two rides, one is a 32-mile ride and the other is a 50-mile ride. Early registration is $15 and the day of registration is $20. Warning: this ride can be rather hilly.

Miami Valley Cycling Summit

On Friday, May 29, in Piqua, the summit aims to educate riders about its 2015 theme, “Cycling Cultivates.” Guest speakers include Mayor Bill Peduto of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Stephen Clark from The League of American Cyclists. This event is free.

Miamisburg River Ride

On Saturday, May 30, riders will gather at Riverfront Park in Miamisburg and ride to Franklin and back along 14 scenic miles, many of them along the beautiful Miami River.

Bike to the Dragons

On Sunday, May 31, The Dayton Dragons urge you to bike to the Dragons game. There will be prize packs and the first 50 people to register will win complementary lawn seats. The game starts at 2 p.m. and registration begins May 1.

National Bike Month officially begins May 1 in Dayton and across the United States. For more information about National Bike Month, please visit bikeleague.org. For more information about Bike Month in Dayton, please visit metroparks.org/GetOutside/NationalBike_RegionalEvents. To learn more about hosting an event in the Miami Valley, contact Lucy Sanchez at 937.274.3171 or lucy.sanchez@metroparks.org.

Reach DCP freelance writer Tor Simms at TorSimms@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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