Thursday, October 14, 2010

Bike Man...New Mysterious Super Hero?

I read an interesting article by J. Bennett Rylah today on Rapid Growth (see the article here). It’s about the mysterious Bike Man who apparently moved back to Grand Rapids recently and has been commuting around the city by bike wearing a mask and a black tux jacket.

Courtesy of Brian Kelly at

I certainly agree with what this guy is attempting to accomplish with promoting a healthy lifestyle and awareness of bicycles as transportation.

But I am a little annoyed with his apparent lack of homework on the cycling activism that has been going on in Grand Rapids for the past few years. The article does admit that “Bike Man had no frame of reference for what’s happened regarding biking during his absence,” which I appreciate. But I’m a little annoyed anyway.

In recent years, Grand Rapids has had its first bike lanes, miles of trails, a cycling friendly governor, the Ride of Silence, Bike to Work week, countless club and social rides, well attended cycling races and tours, recognition as a cycling friendly city and Critical Mass rides to name a few cycling community accomplishments.

The big event that Bike Man is organizing right now is a Critical Mass ride on October 29 starting at Veterans Park downtown. I’m excited that this fun, Halloween themed ride is happening, and I like how he’s presenting it as “a really good way for people who don’t ride their bikes in traffic to start out in a bubble of other riders and get used to riding in the streets.” But CM in Grand Rapids is not new. Though I'm not surprised that Bike Man was "unable to find an active Critical Mass group."  I rode with the group last year, though it has become inactive since then.

So, I really do wish Bike Man the best of luck. I’ll have to check out his Facebook profile. I look forward to seeing what he organizes in the future.

I guess I’m just a little defensive of the progress that Grand Rapids has been making toward cycling friendliness in the past few years. I want people to know about how cool the city is becoming. And I want attitudes, activities, legislation and infrastructure to continue in that direction. Maybe Bike Man will be an integral part of that process!

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