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2011 Grand Rapids Bicycle Summit a call to action as part of National Bike Month

Grand Rapids was nationally recognized and put on the map in the bicycling community. However, Tilma notes that the movement shouldn’t stop there. As the popularity for bicycle riding grows, the GGRBC
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May is National Bike Month and on Friday, May 6, GVSU’s Eberhard Center will host the Greater Grand Rapids Bicycle Coalition’s (GGRBC) 2011 Grand Rapids Bicycle Summit: “Inspiration to Action." GGRBC Interim Director, Tom Tilma, calls the event a “call to action.”

“We’re really trying to grow a network of people,” said Tilma. “We want to fire up the community and inspire action on both the individual and local government level.”

After being awarded the bronze Bicycle Friendly Community award from the League of American Bicyclists, Grand Rapids was nationally recognized and put on the map in the bicycling community. However, Tilma notes that the movement shouldn’t stop there. “As an organization, we know what is necessary to take metro Grand Rapids to the next level,” he said. “We have to do more, and this is only going to happen if individuals, businesses and local government change attitudes and build the necessary infrastructures.”

As the popularity for bicycle riding grows, the GGRBC hopes that events like the summit will help propel this movement forward. “We want to press the idea that using your bike is not only for the weekend,” said Tilma. “There is a new wave of people using their bikes as a means of transportation; for work, for running errands… There is a growth and I think this will continue.”

With the goal of raising awareness within the community to make Metro Grand Rapids and the surrounding region more bicycle friendly, the event will take place from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. The day will include a full schedule of workshops and keynote speakers, including Peter Lagerwey. Originally from Grand Rapids, Lagerwey is now a Seattle based, nationally recognized bicycle and pedestrian planner whose enthusiasm for bicycle friendly communities has led him to consult over 200 communities in North America. He was also awarded a National Environmental Award from President George H. W. Bush for the creation of Seattle’s bicycling system in 1991.

A second keynote speaker is Darwin Hindman, the former mayor of Columbia, Mo. A nationally known bicycle advocate who rode his bicycle to work every day as mayor and transformed Columbia into a bicycle friendly community, Hindman was given the Lifetime Achievement Award from the League of American Bicyclists in 2010.

Workshops and speaker topics will cover both road and mountain biking and will focus on various themes such as the need for bicycle friendly communities, bicycle facility planning, creating bicycle culture, bicycle cooperatives, and more. Near the end of the program, a session will be dedicated to gathering input from the community.

Summit registration is $15, which includes the full day of speakers and seminars along with lunch. The event will feature 27 exhibitors and has 28 sponsors, including lead sponsors, the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation. Free tickets are available for students and those with limited incomes, and the first 100 to pre-register will receive a gift bag full of bicycle friendly merchandise.

Wondering where you can park? Free bicycle event parking will be provided by CycleSafe and auto parking is free in the Fulton Lot, south of the Eberhard Center.

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