The Rapidian

Grand Rapids sets records for Active Commute Week participation

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Number of participants, local businesses joining fifth annual event surpass expectations
A temporary bike rack in front of Long Road Distillers for Handlebar Happy Hour on last Friday evening.

A temporary bike rack in front of Long Road Distillers for Handlebar Happy Hour on last Friday evening. /The Rapid

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One of many Bike to Work Day bike trains visiting The Rapid's pit stop.

One of many Bike to Work Day bike trains visiting The Rapid's pit stop. /The Rapid

The Rapid and Founders Brewing Co. Pit Stop at Rapid Central Station

The Rapid and Founders Brewing Co. Pit Stop at Rapid Central Station /The Rapid

The Rapid and the Greater Grand Rapids Bicycle Coalition (GGRBC) announced today that the number of individuals and local businesses participating in the city’s fifth annual Active Commute Week reached new highs in 2016, and the number of miles logged by commuters during June 20-24 more than doubled last year’s event.

“We congratulate all of the participants and volunteers who have helped make our 2016 Active Commute Week one of the most successful events we’ve enjoyed to date,” said Peter Varga, CEO of The Rapid.

“One of our priorities is to raise awareness about the health, economic and environmental benefits of active travel,” Varga said. “Grand Rapids is a more vibrant community when we have a strong, connected network of transportation options.”

The Greater Grand Rapids Bicycle Coalition’s (GGRBC) Active Commute Week is the city’s version of National Bike to Work Week, which is part of National Bike Month that is recognized annually during May across the United States. GGRBC, The Rapid and city leaders rescheduled the event in Grand Rapids to June this year for the first time with the hope that warmer weather would increase participation.

The decision produced levels of participation that far exceeded organizers’ expectations, according to Nate Phelps, owner of Central District Cyclery in Grand Rapids and co-chair of the GGRBC board’s special events committee.

“This is the best turnout we’ve ever experienced, with increases across-the-board in all categories,” Phelps said. “We’re delighted to promote an event that improves our quality of life in Grand Rapids as well as to help build a more respectful culture between motorists, bicyclists and active commuters.”

Employers such as Steelcase, Grand Valley State University, Calvin College and Spectrum Health were among the 35 businesses and organizations that registered for the 2016 event, more than doubling the 17 businesses and universities that participated last year and the highest total since its 2012 debut.

The 314 individuals who logged at least one commute last week through an online tracking system administered by The Rapid also set a new enrollment record, said Michael Bulthuis, the transit agency’s public outreach coordinator of community engagement. In addition, the more than 17,000 travel miles logged last week by individual commuters sets a new Active Commute Week standard, Bulthuis said. In all, 1,935 active commutes were logged during the week.

The five-day Active Commute Week challenge helps build recognition of the different commute options that exist in Grand Rapids and encourages area residents to consider diversifying their mode of transit to work. The competition allows individual participants and teams to earn points for embracing active transportation opportunities, including bicycling, walking, riding The Rapid, carpooling, running, long-boarding or inline skating.

Beyond highlighting the healthy lifestyle benefits generated by active commuting, Active Commute Week helps support Grand Rapids’ inaugural “Driving Change” Bicycle Safety Education Campaign that is designed to educate motorists and non-motorist travelers about learning to share the road.

Grand Rapids launched “Driving Change,” the city’s largest-ever bicycle safety education push, in May to help reduce the number of injuries or deaths from bike crashes. The initiative also is intended to improve public safety while spurring better understanding of the city’s new bicycle-related ordinances that are in force beginning in 2016.

Sponsors of the 2016 Active Commute Week include: Kent County Parks Foundation, Long Road Distillers, Advantage Benefits Group, Meijer, West Michigan Ride Share, GVSU, Steelcase, Turnstone, Kent District Library, Rapid Wheelmen, Rockford Construction, Cascade Engineering, Catalyst Partners, Boston Square Community Bikes, DPT Solutions, Calvin College, Perrigo, Grand Rapids Bicycle Company, Williams & Works and Priority Health.

Prizes for the Active Commute Challenge competitions included a $100 Meijer gift card, $75 Hydration Pack, $155 Bivi Bike Hook and monthly bus passes from The Rapid.

Individual winners of Challenge events that were announced Friday evening included:

  • Most Active Trips: Bus – Eric Arnoys (11); Bike – Roy Zuidema (20); Walk – Jolene Vos-Camy (18); Carpool – Kris Ferriss(16)
  • Most Active Miles: Bus – Ann Puckett (280); Bike – Josh Chilcote (178.6); Walk – Holly Goulet (35.6); Carpool – Jim Momeyer (525.28)
  • Employer winners: Small – Catalyst Partners; Medium – HexArmor; Large – Kent District Library

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