Local Couple Wants You to Go For a Ride

biking familyMost of us remember what it was like to finally learn to drive. Our roaming range suddenly expanded from our own neighborhood to the whole city or even more. We could hang out with friends previously inaccessible. What we sometimes forget is that children take a similar step of freedom when they learn to ride a bike. Suddenly, the playground a couple blocks away seems to be closer and getting to school is much quicker. Besides, riding your bike is fun. You can go really fast, especially down hills! Yes, life is good for a kid on a bike. That is just one reason six of US News’ latest Top 10 best places to live are Bicycle Friendly Communities. Biking isn’t so bad for adults, either. It is great exercise. Think of all the money people spend on exercise bikes for their homes. They could be going somewhere for all that work. In fact, according to the Federal Highway Administration, a full half of the car trips in America could be completed with a 20 minute bike ride. Besides, riding your bike gives you time to think. Maybe you’ll even pass by someone you know and stop to chat for a few minutes.

The City of Midland recognizes these things and has established a Non-Motorized Transport (NMT) Advisory Committee. The NMT Committee has already developed and received approval for a city-wide network of bike routes and lanes to enable safe access to a variety of destinations like parks, schools, workplaces, and other common destinations. (Check out the plan details at http://www.midland-mi.org/government/departments/planning/planning/nmtcommittee.htm.)You may have noticed Phase 1 already beginning with shared bike lanes on Ashman and Rodd between Nelson and downtown. The rest of Phase 1 will connect nearly every city neighborhood to downtown and the Pere Marquette Rail and Chippewa trails. At current funding levels, Phase 1 could take the next 2-3 years to finish.

Dave and Patti Kepler, however, want it completed sooner. They are challenging our community to make a difference where the rubber meets the road. The Keplers have pledged $25,000 as a matching grant for those who contribute between now and Labor Day. For every dollar you donate, they will match it up to a total of $25,000. The additional $50,000 would enable all of Phase 1 to be completed by next spring! In other words, when the children get out of school next year, they (and we grown-ups, too) will have better access to more places within the city. To take advantage of the Kepler’s matching grant, you can donate to the “Non-Motorized Transportation Improvement Project Fund” held at the Midland Area Community Foundation (/fund.htm?id=539).