Happy trails

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Zionsville seeks to be a bike friendly town year round

By Renee Larr

May is celebrated as National Bike Month throughout the country, but the town of Zionsville is hoping to soon be recognized for its efforts to promote bicycling year round.

In June, the League of American Bicyclists is expected to announce its newest list of Bike Friendly Communities, a designation that Zionsville narrowly missed last year.

“We got an honorable mention, so this year with the tweaks and changes we made we’re hopeful,” said Matt Dickey, Zionsville superintendent of parks and recreation.

There are more than 300 Bike Friendly Communities in the U.S. and eight in Indiana. To earn Bike Friendly status, communities must show that they have a plan for growing and maintaining bike paths or routes, enforce bicycle safety laws and educate the public on bicycle issues, among other factors.

Zionsville has more than 18.5 miles of paved pathways that are at least eight feet wide, with additional trails in the works along Bloor Lane and CR 700 East. Other potential trails have been identified throughout the town, but it’s too early to know which ones will ultimately be developed.

David Wefler, a founder of the Zionsville Triathlon and Cycling Team, believes the town’s existing trails are among the best in the area – but he would like to see them expanded.

“Zionsville is doing a great job, but they definitely still have some room to improve, mainly on the length of the trails,” Wefler said. “I have a one-and-a-half year old daughter so it’s great for pulling her around in the trailer.”

May events

Although Zionsville seeks to be a bike-friendly town all year, the town is holding a few special events in May that coincide with National Bike Month.

The fifth annual Bike Rodeo and Family Fun Ride will kick things off May 9 with a bicycle safety check by bicycle mechanics from Nebo Ridge Bicycles at 9:30 a.m. followed by a seven-mile loop ride through five different parks along the trails in Zionsville with an optional three-mile extension to Heritage Trail Park.

“We finish up in the Zionsville old village or downtown area where there are lots of restaurants and oftentimes ice cream is a featured stop at the end for a ride,” Dickey said.

The Zionsville Bike Challenge will offer an incentive for participants to hop on a bike from May 18 to June 28. Each week prizes are awarded and cyclists that complete the challenge will receive a free T-shirt.

The free challenge contains goals for four skill levels. The first category is family fun with riders needing to complete 90 minutes a week. The second category is the beginner level at 200 miles in six weeks, with the third level requiring 400 miles in six weeks and advanced riders needing 600 miles in six weeks.

“The concept is to get people back on the bikes or to get people new to bicycling to find more reasons to get more miles in, since everyone is trying to get in better shape,” Dickey said.

Last year more than 85 participants registered and logged more than 23,700 miles, with about 90 percent of the participants completing the challenge.

Safe trails

With miles of trails that continue to expand, the Zionsville Police Department started a police bike patrol in 1997 to patrol the town’s pathways and work special events. The nine full- and part-time officers attend a police bike training course each year.

“They are a highly visible part of the police department and one which receives much recognition throughout the year,” ZPD Capt. Robert Musgrave said.

The unit recently received a grant which has allowed for much needed repairs to bicycles and the addition of two new officers.

The police bike patrol will be part of the upcoming Bike Rodeo and Family Fun Ride, and officers expect to be out on the trails daily this summer.

FREE BIKE CLINICS

Endurance House is Zionsville will be offering free bike maintenance and safety clinics in honor of National Bike Month. The clinics are scheduled for 6 p.m. May 7 and 11 a.m. May 9 at the shop, 640 S. Main St. For more information, call 344-0940.

MORE INFO

Learn more about the Bike Rodeo and Family Fun Ride at http://www.zionsville-in.gov/2015/04/05092015-930am-family-fun-ride/. Learn more about the Zionsville Bike Challenge at http://www.zionsville-in.gov/2015/04/2015-zionsville-bike-challenge-starts/. View a map of town pathways at http://www.zionsville-in.gov/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/Zionsville-Pathway-Map_04-01-11.pdf.

YOUR INPUT NEEDED

As Zionsville seeks to expand its own network of trails, the Metropolitan Planning Organization is seeking input on its Regional Bikeways Plan, a document that guides development and federal funding of trails and other bike routes in Central Indiana.

Lebanon and Whitestown are among other municipalities developing trails that are expected to tie into the regional system, which already includes pathways in Zionsville. The MPO is seeking feedback from the public on the next five years of the plan through an online survey at www.surveymonkey.com/s/MPOBikeways. The survey will be open through May 24.


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