Transportation Enhancements need YOU!

I was going to write an entry about the two action alerts I received from the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy and the League of American Bicyclists, but Gene over at BikingBis pretty much said everything I was going to say.

In a nutshell, the version of the “Economic Recovery” bill that the Senate passed left out key funding for Transportation Enhancements that will pay specifically for projects to improve bicycling and walking conditions in our cities.  The final version of the bill will now be worked out in a committee and then sent back for both parts of Congress to pass.  Please go to the link above and find out how to take action to tell your Senators and Representatives that Transportation Enhancements are a key investment in making our cities livable, healthy, and economically prosperous.  WE NEED THEM IN THE FINAL BILL!

Giving Away $14,000!

Amy and I have been co-chairpeople of a fantastic bicycle tour for the last two years.

When I volunteered to take over the Colorburst Tour (Amy was drafted as my co-chair later) in the winter of 2007, I knew that it would be a lot of work.  I had no idea how wonderful it would feel to give away checks for thousands of dollars to fantastic non-profit organizations!  It has been a huge amount of work with a huge reward in the relationships that we have developed and the money that we are able to give away.  It’s been a great feeling to carry on a ride that has been a West Michigan event for 26 years!  (The ride was started when I was 3 years old!)

Dennis Kneibel and Sharon Nunnelee – West Michigan Trails and Greenways Coalition

This past Thursday, at the February Rapid Wheelmen club meeting, Amy and I were privileged to give away checks totaling over $14,000!  This was the record profit we earned at the Colorburst Bicycle Tour last October.  We had a record 800+ participants and the weather could not possibly have been any better.  We had a brisk fall morning that gave way to partly cloudy skies and temps in the 70s.  I can only wish for similar weather this year.

from left: Mike Miller, John Segard, Derek Haan, and Crystal White — local police depts.

Homer Smith — MADD Michigan

I want to say thank you and congratulations to all of the representatives from these great organizations who were able to attend.  It means a lot to be able to meet these people face to face and present them with their donation.

–Ainat Rodriguez, Students Against Destructive Decisions – Lowell High School

–Mark Hagar – National Ride of Silence, board member

–Homer Smith – MADD Michigan, Executive Director

–Sharon Nunnelee, Executive Director and Dennis Kneibel, Board President – West Michigan Trails and Greenways Coalition

–Derek Haan and Mike Miller – Rockford Police Department

–John Segard – Kentwood Police Department

–Crystal White – Sparta Police Department

Also receiving funds, but unable to attend in person, were the Kent County Sheriff’s Dept., the Lowell Police Dept., and the Cedar Springs Police Dept.

The biggest thanks goes out to my fantastic wife Amy, without whom I would not be able to make this event happen.  A BIG thanks also goes out to the dozens of volunteers who make this event possible, the past Colorburst chairpeople who worked hard to built this ride into such a fantastic event, and our event sponsors, in no particular order: Schuler’s Chapbook Cafe, Heeren Bros. Produce, Marie Catrib’s, Keiser’s Kitchen, Foremost Insurance Group, Alger Cyclery, The Motion Initiative, Maple Hills Sugar Bush, Panera Bread Company, Adam Chapin Digital Art and Design, Sir Speedy Printing, and The Fresh Market.  And finally, thanks to Dennis Hamel, for taking the photos used above.

Please mark your calendar for the 2009 Colorburst Ride, Saturday, October 10th! See you there!

Two (Relatively) Quick Updates

Ball/Perkins park charette

While no official results have been posted on the City’s newly designed Green Grand Rapids website, the unofficial results are pretty clear. Mountain bikers and their supporters showed up en masse to cast their dot votes to have “Multi-use natural surface trails (singletrack suitable for mtn biking, trail running, xc skiing, and hiking)” integrated into the master plan for this park.


This photo taken by Thomas Fish of The Motion Initiative shows that 30 minutes prior to the end of the charette, “Multi-use natural surface trail” had received 107 votes. The next closest categories were “Natural/Preservation Area” and “Walking/Hiking/XC Ski trail” with 58 and 57 votes respectively.

I have heard that some concerns were raised about allowing mountain bikers to use the trails. It seems to me that trail use conflicts between hikers and bikers and fear that mountain bikes will destroy the trails and cause erosion are the two biggest obstacles that we must work to overcome as we try to have facilities built in our public parks. Trail use conflicts can be overcome with proper trail management and education of trail users.

The fallacy of increased environmental impacts has been addressed by the International Mtn Bicycling Association, but many times those unfamiliar with the sport make the wrong assumptions. The IMBA has a website summarizing the scientific studies that have been done comparing the relative impacts of different kinds of trail use on erosion, vegetation, and wildlife that can be found here. Although more research should be conducted under different kinds of conditions, the studies that have been done indicate there is no increased impact of bicycling over hiking.

Additionally, the new Green Grand Rapids logo indicates support of off-road bicycling. The new main graphic on the Green Grand Rapids website clearly shows a bicyclist riding on a hillside surrounded by trees. While I’m pretty sure it was not intentional, I can only hope this is a good omen for the future of mountain bicycling in our great city! 🙂


GR Bicycle Film Festival in the GR Press

Just a reminder, the Grand Rapids Bicycle Film Festival is coming up this Saturday, February 7th, 7:30pm at the Wealthy Theater. It’s going to be awesome!

Howard Meyerson, the Outdoor Editor for the Grand Rapids Press wrote a great article on the festival in this Saturday’s paper. Meyerson has been very supportive of bicycling (along with most other outdoor activities…it IS his job) in Grand Rapids, so be sure to check out his article here: