Grand Rapids Bicycle Coalition Gets West Michigan Moving
Cycling is many things to many people, but with the growing commitment to incorporate non-motorized into city streets, it’s becoming a staple way to get around cities like Grand Rapids, Holland, and more.
What we’ve seen over the past few years is a shift away from governmental planning to grassroots support for cyclists. As advocates, as leaders, and as organizers, local non-profits have grown up to push for more than just bike paths and bike lanes. Instead, they’ve balanced their efforts between influencing infrastructure with inviting more people to pedal than ever before. By building the community of cyclists, they’re also building support for legislative changes and putting more patient, informed drivers behind the wheel when commuting by bike isn’t an option.
One of the strongest forces in the state has been the Greater Grand Rapids Bicycle Coalition. The group found its origins way back in 2009 by inviting over 200 people to a summit. The topic was ambitious; creating an environment and organization that supported shaping Grand Rapids into a safer cycling city. What started out as an idea turned into a reality thanks to a dedicated core group of board members and a countless volunteers.
Over the years, the Coalition has hosted clinics on urban cycling safety, usually at the invitation of bike-friendly businesses eager to encourage and support active commuting by their employees. They’ve built a strong group of businesses across the region who help relay and expand upon the values of non-motorized transportation, as well as echoing the health benefits of getting around on two wheels.
GGRBC has also worked on the structural changes that are vital to safe cycling. Working closely with the City of Grands Rapids and other area municipalities, they’ve helped to add over one hundred miles of bike lanes to new and updated city streets, offering cyclists access to vital transportation corridors with safety as a main design element.
They’re making the most of these new avenues, including keeping a West Michigan tradition alive. For eleven years, Joshua Duggan has hosted PedalGR, a no-drop ride that takes riders on an ambling tour of Grand Rapids, often highlighting parks, businesses, sights and sounds that even locals may have missed, especially if they only got around by car. Rides like these help build community and inform that community at the same time, especially of Grand Rapids’ 2015 city ordinance that mandates a 5 foot passing rule, nearly double the state law of 3 feet.
By supporting your local cycling advocacy, you help put cycling for exercise, transportation, and recreation on the forefront of your community’s development and culture. By increasing awareness, assigning value, and educating both riders and drivers, we can make cycling safer. Need help locating your closest advocacy group? We can help.