GR Bike Summit Recap in the LAB E-newsletter

A very positive review of the first Grand Rapids Bike Summit was sent out to thousands of League of American Bicyclists members around the country today in the American Bicyclist Update eNewsletter.  Here’s what it said:

Grand Rapids Bike Summit Recap

The inaugural Grand Rapids Bike Summit took place last Friday, April 24th in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The event hosted by the newly formed Bike Grand Rapids Coalition had the goal of putting together an action plan for making the city into a Bicycle Friendly Community. The turnout of over 200 people was just one demonstration of the enthusiasm for these efforts from the city’s active bicycling community. Bill Nesper, the League’s Director of the Bicycle Friendly America program spoke at the event and expressed how inspiring the event was for him. “The community has a lot of the ingredients of a great cycling city but most importantly they have the thing that someone from out of town can’t teach at a workshop – a grassroots bicycling culture. [At their summit] it was clear that the community has the people at all levels, from city staff to club cyclists, who want to transform their city for cycling. They have come up with a plan of action which was the goal…and I can’t wait to see what happens next.”

Thanks to Bill Nesper and the League staff for this positive exposure to bicyclists all over the country.  We should be proud of the bicycling culture we have in Grand Rapids and continue to build and push to make our city more bicycle friendly.  The potentional economic and health benefits are huge!

MadCap Coffee by Velo

With the unfortunate closure of the well loved Four Friends Coffee shop due to a lease dispute, a huge caffeine gap opened up on Monroe Center, most acutely felt in the evenings, after Biggby, Local Mocha, and West Coast Coffee have all closed up shop.

Swooping in to fill that gap (at least on Friday and Saturday nights for now) comes MadCap Coffee at the corner of Ottawa and Monroe Center. Although I haven’t been yet, I’ve heard nothing but great things about the place. If you read their website and blog and have followed their progress in opening the shop, you get the feeling that these people will do whatever it takes to deliver great coffee to their customers.

bikeflyerEven if it means hopping on a bicycle in the frigid, snowy winter wonderland of West Michigan and bringing it right to your door. Madcap is offering bicycle delivery on any coffee ordered to be delivered within the city of Grand Rapids. Just go to their online store and select that option when you checkout.

I emailed Ryan Knapp, MadCap’s general manager to get the scoop on this new service. He was kind enough to answer my questions.

Bicycle Delivery! That’s awesome! What gave you the idea to offer a bicycle delivery option?
It was something I brainstormed when I was working for a coffee roaster in IL about a year ago. I had heard of a company named “Peace Coffee” who was doing something similar in MN. So I figured if people can bike coffee year around in MN, surely we can do it in IL. But then I moved to Michigan to work for MadCap and that kind of upped the ante. But I was up for the challenge (p.s. we committed to this wonderful idea during the beautiful summer months).

Is there a minimum purchase?
The minimum is just one 14oz bag of coffee.

Do you deliver items other than coffee?
Currently all we do is coffee. However if someone wanted a merchandise order (mug, chemex, t-shirt) we’d be glad to deliver that as well.

Is there a limit to how far you’ll deliver? I mean, 42nd and Kalamazoo Ave is technically within the city proper. Would you deliver there?
Currently we don’t have a limit besides Grand Rapids city limits. 42nd and Kalamazoo is pretty far tho at this time of year. Hmm, maybe we should rethink that.

Do I have to be home when your bicyclist arrives with my order?
Nope, we will leave it on your doorstep or inside your screen door if no one is home. We will email you just incase you have specific instructions.

Should you tip your coffee bicycle deliveryperson?
A $2 surcharge is added for delivery. However, our bikers definitely wouldn’t turn away a friendly tip.

How do I get this awesome job?
Currently I’ve been doing the deliveries and we also have a handful of dedicated bikers from the community who have volunteered this service. If this program picked up (which we are hoping for) there would definitely be opportunities for bikers to help us out for a small compensation.

Does coffee delivered by bicycle taste better than coffee delivered by fossil fuel?
Absolutely! At MadCap we are incredibly passionate about telling the entire story from seed-to-cup when it comes to coffee. Therefore, we put an emphasis that each part of the coffee production has an effect on the final flavor in the cup including the soil the coffee is farmed on, the variety of the beans, the climate, the altitude, the processing the storage, the roasting, the brewing etc. We have been trying our best to relay that story as much as possible and research every step along the way for each one of our coffees. Thus, the opportunity to take the knowledge of our coffee one step farther by being there when it is delivered to a customer is undoubtedly a joy for the guru’s at MadCap.

But as far as taste alone, probably not.

How many bicycle deliveries have you made so far?
Less than 5, we haven’t advertised it too much yet.

Thanks to Ryan for answering all of my questions.  He also expressed interest in supporting the local cycling community, so you may see their name around.  Get in there soon and check out the coffee roaster in the basement, or better yet, have some fantastic coffee delivered right to your door on two wheels!

An Urban Mtn Bike Trail at Ball/Perkins Park?

  • What: Ball/Perkins Park master plan public input session (part of Green Grand Rapids)
  • When: Saturday, January 24th, 2009 — 9am-12pm and 1pm-3pm
  • Where: City High School, 1400 Fuller Ave. NE

I bought a mountain bike last spring. It was expensive enough that I feel really bad I didn’t ride it more. Why didn’t I ride it more? One of the main reasons is because I have a really hard time driving 10+ miles one way in a car, just to ride my bike.

To fix this problem, the Grand Rapids Parks and Rec Dept. and other local public agencies must be convinced that it is a good use of public lands to build “multi-use natural surface trails” (that’s fancy parks lingo for singletrack hiking/mtn biking/xc ski trails) where mountain biking is allowed.  Nate Phelps and the WMMBA (Western chapter of the Michigan Mountain Biking Assoc.) have been working diligently to do this. BUT, THEY NEED HELP!

One of the best opportunities for a new mountain bike trail is in the 82-acre undeveloped Ball/Perkins park. This park in northeast GR is located north of Leonard St between Ball and Perkins Avenues. This Saturday, the city is holding a charrette as part of the Green Grand Rapids master planning process to determine the best way for this park to be developed. It is important that the mountain bicyclists in Grand Rapids make it known that mountain bicycling should be incorporated into plans for the park.

green_grand_rapids

Come out and spend 10 minutes to express your support for mountain biking trails in our parks. BE SURE that when you vote, you place your support under “multi-use natural surface trails” and not just “hiking” or “trails”. Additionally, use the link at the bottom of this post to share this post on your facebook. Send it to friends.  The date is coming up soon!  Sorry for the short notice.  The more turnout we can get, the more likely we are to get recognized and get consideration for our trail uses in the park master plan.

What Can We Do On 82 acres?

A helluva lot!

What’s the best way to build a great urban mountain biking park in Grand Rapids? Look at what other cities have done well, copy it, and make it better! Over the last 5-10 years, mountain bikers who live in urban areas have worked hard to convince their cities to build, or allow them to build, mountain bike trails in their parks. Where are these parks? They are in cities of many sizes in all parts of the country, from Philadelphia, Seattle, and Manhattan (yes, Manhattan) to Minneapolis, Richmond, and Cleveland. Here is a summary of five of the better ones: The best urban mountain bike trail systems in the US.

What can we do for Ball/Perkins? For that, I have looked to Minneapolis. In 2005, the Minneapolis Off-Road Cycling Advocates and the Minnesota Off-Road Cyclists were allowed by the Minneapolis Parks Department to install the Theodore Wirth Off-Road Cycling Demonstration Project.

theodore_wirth_map

What I really like about the trails that were created in Theodore Wirth Park is that there are separate mountain biking and hiking trails to satisfy both sets of users and eliminate some of the conflicts that can occur on narrow singletrack trail.  It also creates twice as much trail for XC ski trail users to explore during the winter.  Below I’ve created a map comparing the area of Theodore Wirth Park with the available area in Ball/Perkins park.

Microsoft Virtual Earth calculated that the area used for the 4-5 miles of mountain biking trails (in addition to a large amount of hiking trail) at Theodore Wirth is about 50 acres, meaning that the 82 acres of Ball/Perkins is plenty of area to meet the needs of all trail users.

ballperkins-map

Don’t forget to spread the word and get yourself to this meeting.  It will only take 10 minutes!  With persistence and by showing up, we can increase the recreational opportunities in Grand Rapids, increase our bicycle friendliness, and create something great in our own backyard!