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100th Wednesday Evening Bike Ride approaching, Daniel Koert steps down as ride leader

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Daniel Koert at his bicycle shop, <a href="">CommuteGR</a>.

Daniel Koert at his bicycle shop, CommuteGR. /Tommy Valdez

Next Wednesday on August 18 is the 100th Wednesday Evening Ride. For two years, the Wednesday Evening Bike Ride has happened at 9 p.m. every Wednesday. Bicyclists meet at the Calvin College Art Gallery parking lot (Division between Cherry and Oakes) and mingle until 9:30 p.m. That’s when Daniel Koert, the rides founder, announces the route and then the ride begins.

For about an hour, the streets in Grand Rapids are taken over by an average of 75 bicyclists. Many of these riders commute around the city on a daily basis. 

The ride started two years ago on July 16, 2008. Originally, the ride began at the Heritage Netherlands Reformed Congregation parking lot across from Martha's Vinyard. Koert, Bill Bereza, Shawn Crowley and Evan Simula created the ride. Over time, from either moving or other obligations, Koert became the sole leader of the ride.

Koert will be stepping down as the ride's leader after the 100th ride.

The ride began because the original group saw the need for an evening ride when many bicyclists could attend. Bicyclists are subject to the abrasiveness of automobiles on the road and gain strength in numbers. For drivers, the ride is an opportunity for city drivers to get used to sharing the streets. For unaccustomed bicyclists, it is an opportunity to learn how to bike properly and safely on the road.

“More and more people are riding everyday and I do not think it is just a fad. I believe that the bicycling movement is here to stay,” Koert expressed.

The Wednesday Evening Ride does not try to interrupt the flow of traffic in the city and bikers are expected to follow traffic laws.

"One thing every bicyclist should do to better bicycling conditions in the city is stop at lights and obey traffic laws,” Koert said.

The 100th ride will be a gentle stroll through northeast Grand Rapids that will end at Sazerac Lounge (1418 Plainfield NE). Riders will roll up to boxes of pizzas, compliments of Koert, and local DJ Spydre Murphy will provide the tunes. Koert has not yet found a replacement leader but is hopeful that he will have names to announce at the ride's after-party.

"I really hope the ride continues on without me. I feel that one person should not have to hold all the responsibility for something like this. This should be a community event where everyone pitches in to help the ride grow," Koert empasized.

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Though I haven't been able to make of the rides this year, the Wednesday Evening Bike Rides were a big part of my summer of 2009 - a good summer indeed. I hope that someone else picks up Dan's megaphone or whatever (Also, Dan should get a megaphone or whatever).