Become a Fan of PedalGR on Facebook

Now you can become a fan of PedalGR on Facebook! Just visit the new PedalGR Facebook page, or click on “Become a Fan” in the Facebook Widget in the right hand toolbar.

Previously, PedalGR had a group on Facebook, but this new page format will make it easier for me to share news and information about PedalGR with everyone. So, even if you are a member of the Facebook group, please also Become a Fan on the new page.

PedalGR on RGTV!

rapid growth logoA big thanks to Andy Dragt of RGTV for their feature published today on

Click here to see the video featurette.

If you’re visiting PedalGR because of the video. Welcome! I invite you to come and ride with us.  I try to make the ride accessible for riders of all levels and ages.

Here’s a short look at our upcoming rides:
July 22 – Tour of SW GR/Wyoming – Last year, this ride visited Tacos El Moroleon. Unfortunately, that place is no longer in business and I am currently investigating another place to get a good taco on the SW side (suggestions are welcome). We will also be visiting some Wyoming parks, touring the Motion Initiative Bicycle Co-op, and riding by the Covanta waste incineration facility.  Route will be posted soon.

IMG_0270 (by fotoman311)August 5 – Millennium Park and Versluis Orchards – We’ll tour the new trail at Millennium Park then continue on for a tour of Versluis Orchards led by Nate Versluis.  Last year we got to eat peaches right from the tree and it was AWESOME!  We’ll also ride the tunnel under I-196.  You don’t want to miss one of the most scenic 15 mile rides you could possibly take from downtown Grand Rapids!

August 19 – Grand Rapids Home for Veterans – We’ll crash a bingo party after a GRHV Steak Fry and get a tour of some of the historical sites at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans and the veteran’s cemetery.  Originally established for injured Civil War veterans (214 of them are buried in the cemetery), this is a haunted site according to the Encylopedia of Haunted Places.  We’ll also tour Riverside Park and the surrounding neighborhoods.

Also, join us on Facebook to get updates about upcoming rides!

To Helmet or Not To Helmet

I was interviewed yesterday by Grand Rapids Press reporter Jim Harger about whether or not Grand Rapids should pass a mandatory bicycle helmet law requiring ALL bicyclists to wear helmets. I said I would not support this ordinance. (Edit: Here is the article. It turns out that Mr. Harger did not choose to quote me.)

Unknown to many, helmets can be a hot, controversial topic in the bicycling community.

Ken Kifer, a cycling advocate who was tragically killed by a drunk driver in 2003, lays out some of the main arguments for helmet use:

1) Bicycling accidents are frequent and unavoidable, and head injuries and death are likely to result from these accidents.

2) Many cyclists have attested that a helmet saved their lives and even have battered or broken helmets to prove it.

3) Scientific evaluations have been made of helmets which ensure that they will protect the head against almost all injures.

4) Researchers have determined that up to 88% of head injuries or deaths could be avoided by wearing a helmet. A drop in the number of cyclists killed each year is further proof that bicycle helmets work.

5) Any protection is better than none, there is no handicap involved in wearing a helmet, and no advantage comes from not wearing one. Statistics show that when bike riders are given a free choice of whether to wear helmets or not that most of them don’t.

He continues on with the reasons he does not believe those arguments are valid. See his article here.

There are many other sites opposing mandatory helmet laws as well, including the
League of Bicycling Voters, an Austin, TX group that formed to oppose a proposed mandatory helmet law in that city.

The bicycle helmet debate has extremely passionate and convincing advocates on both sides. There are two main websites that will be referenced by each side.
The pro-helmet side: Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute
The helmet skeptics: Bicycle Helmet Research Foundation

Each is packed with data and scientific studies that supposedly back up their point of view.

Who is right? As with many complex issues there is not a clear-cut answer.

A bicycle helmet is a tool for bicycle safety and can clearly help prevent some types of injuries in low-speed crashes. This is why I wear one nearly every time I ride a bicycle, and I encourage others to do so as well. However, it may be of little help in many bicycle/motor vehicle accidents that happen at higher speeds, which are the ones that typically result in serious injury and death.

Crash prevention is the best way to avoid these situations. We need widespread education of both drivers and cyclists on the causes of car/bike collisions and how to avoid them. We need “Complete Streets” that safely accommodate all road users. We will have to work together with local governments, educational institutions, and the bicycling community to implement these changes and others.

Doing these things will be a lot harder than passing a mandatory helmet ordinance, but it will be more effective in encouraging people to get out and ride, continuing to build a bicycle culture in Grand Rapids, and making our city a Bicycle Friendly Community.

Smart Cycling on WZZM13

wzzm13-logo-2006On Wednesday morning I spent some time with Meredith TerHaar, a producer and features reporter at WZZM13. Ms. TerHaar is a great example of the 60% of people who are “Interested, but Concerned” in bicycling.  They want to ride more, but they are intimidated by getting out and sharing the road with cars.   She had some experience riding on country roads while training for a triathlon, but not much riding in a more urban setting.

We filmed for about 45 minutes to make one of her “Weekend Adventure” features. We spent time going over a lot of the need-to-know topics covered in the Smart Cycling – Street Skills 101 courses I’m teaching throughout the summer, including reasons to ride, helmet fit, ABC Quick Check, scanning, rock dodge, hand signals, the door zone and other topics.  I will be interested to see how all that gets edited down to a three minute feature clip.  Even after this short session, Ms. TerHaar seemed noticably more confident in her riding.

These kinds of skills are the same ones that I emphasize on my PedalGR rides.  The group rides allow people an opportunity to learn how to interact with traffic in a less intimidating way by riding at a relaxed pace with a group of cyclists of many different skill levels.

I’ll post a link when it’s up, but if you want to watch it live, it should air during the 7am hour tomorrow morning.  A big thanks to Meredith TerHaar for taking the time to help me get this important information out to the public.