May is Bike Month, and cyclists are being encouraged with more than just fair weather to increase their miles and activity levels. Months of planning will culminate in two major cycling events. Publicity is being rolled out for Bike the Bend and Bike to Work Week.
Bike the Bend is an inaugural bike ride for Michiana. It is modeled after Bike the Drive in Chicago and organized rides in other cities where streets become car-free for a few hours: cyclists own the streets. This event, which is ideal family fun, takes place on Sunday, May 23.
Bike to Work Week is an annual event that has grown each year in Michiana. Riders are invited to join teams, usually organized around their workplaces, and enjoy friendly competition with other teams. The week features two special events where cyclist gather in downtown South Bend to enjoy camaraderie and some good eats. Bike to Work Week takes place from Monday, May 24 through Friday, May 28.
Biking infrastructure is improving too, as South Bend Mayor Stephen Luecke has announced over 10 miles of new city bike routes in 2010. And the Bike Michiana Coalition has purchased new portable bike parking racks to be set up for special Michiana biking events.
Bike to work week features a kick-off lunch at the John Hunt Plaza in downtown South Bend on Monday. Then there is the free-to-bikers organic blueberry pancake breakfast in front of the LaSalle Grill downtown on Colfax. This event was so big last year that bikers had trouble finding parking spots. That will be solved this year with the new BMC bike parking racks, and the complete closure of Colfax Ave. Get more information at the Bike to Work web site.
Volunteers are needed for Bike the Bend. Along a 30 mile route, virtually all streets are being closed. Traffic at each intersection will be controlled by a police officer and a volunteer. If you are interested in volunteering, get more information and sign up at the Bike the Bend web site. If you would prefer to just ride, you can pre-register at the same site. The fees range from $15 to $30 per person. A family can register for only $40.
Major events like these don’t come about without the full support of business, civic, and government leaders, staff, and volunteers. Michiana is fertile ground for this cooperation. South Bend, Mishawaka, St. Joseph County, Notre Dame and Bethel College have teamed up with a host of business and community organizations to make it happen. The City of South Bend deserves special recognition, as they have completed 35 miles of bike routes in the city over the past 4 years; another 15 miles are planned by the end of 2011. When the 2010 work is done, a cyclist could begin on Olive Road at the city’s northwest edge and ride a continuous path without leaving the route network all the way to the southern point of York Road. And the cyclist could have several courses from which to choose. For more details, see the full South Bend bicycling press release at Press Release. You can read the full South Bend Bike Month proclamation at Proclamation, and you can see the full official map of the South Bend Bike Network here.