Two weeks ago, my column featured a piece on Bike Piqua and the great work being done in northern Miami County to promote cycling in the area. John Terwilliger, a long-time friend of mine, recently asked if I would be interested in doing a column on the efforts Troy is expending to do the same. As an avid cyclist who uses the roads and bike trails almost daily, I thought it was a no-brainer.
John is a retired teacher and coach and now serves on the City Council. In that capacity, he is the chair of the Mayor’s Bike Advisory Committee (MBAC). This group of 16 has designed/implemented/coordinated/endorsed/supported an ambitious agenda of activities aimed at increasing bicycling. The focus of MBAC is outreach, programs, events, and facilities. Many of the events are well-known: the Ride of Silence, the Strawberry Ride, and the Tour de Donut.
In partnership with Main Street Troy, MBAC has established and published a list of bike-friendly businesses. Maps of downtown Troy are located in kiosks located on the bike trail at Dye Mill Road, Duke Park, and Treasure Island. In exchange for being specially notated on the downtown maps, bike-friendly businesses pledge to supply visiting bicyclists with free water, restroom facilities, bicycle parking, and maps. Scott Myers of the Miami County Parks District is working on building more kiosks to increase exposure of this program. In partnership with BW3, medical ID stickers (to be attached to the inside of helmets) are being distributed. There are two bike repair stations on the bike path in Troy, one at the gazebo by Miami Shores and one at Treasure Island. The tools at the repair station range from the modest (air pump) to the esoteric (chain wrench). The gazebo at the Shores and the tools there were donated by Gary and Pat Weaver, former teachers and bicycle enthusiasts.
For those who like to combine bike riding with playing in the mud, a mountain bike course has been established at Duke Park. Under the leadership of MBAC members Jeff Schultz and Jim Stubbs, the Troy Mountain Bike Association (TMBA) has embraced this course. Using a grant from the Troy Foundation which allowed them to purchase chain saws, weed choppers, signage, and a Gator, the all-volunteer TMBA maintains the course, one of three mountain bike courses in this part of the state. Calling themselves the Mad Cows, the group holds a ride each weekend and on Wednesdays that are open to the community. These are the fat-tire folks who ride in five inches of snow and the aforementioned mud. July 14-15 this year are the dates for “24 Hours of TMBA” an endurance ride for relay teams.
A greatly innovative project of the advisory committee is the high water by-pass route. As anyone who has used the bike trail knows, parts of it are underwater during the spring snow-melt and heavy rains. MBAC has just received permission to post signs on the trail, directing trail users to ways around the flooded areas.
Community outreach, though, is a shining example of what is right with local government. At the junior high and elementary school levels, DARE officers and fire fighters are teaching bicycle safety to students. Bikes are available at the junior high for this use. These bikes are what used to be the abandoned heaps lying around alleys and empty lots. J & D Bicycles, located on the bike path across County Road 25A from Treasure Island, is repairing and refurbishing these bikes and returning them to good use. As well as being used on the educational front, these bikes are also part of the Wheels of Kindness initiative. School guidance counselors and community advocates make MBAC aware of kids who can’t afford a bike. Needy kids (and a few adults who need some form of transportation) are supplied with bikes free of charge. Obviously, not all children can ride a standard bike. A Rifton Bike is the answer for these kids. A Rifton is a tricycle that is adjustable for those who have special needs. An anonymous donor has purchased one of these bikes for the Troy Junior High.
With their emphasis on safety, the MBAC would like to see every rider wearing a helmet. To help achieve this goal, they sponsor a helmet give-away during the summer bicycling safety schools. A helmet medical ID is included with each helmet. When the Troy Square plays host to outdoor events during the summer, Troy fire fighters are often on the scene giving away helmets. Helmet Hero is a program in which MBAC partners with the Troy Police Department. When kids are witnessed doing the right thing on their bikes (wearing a helmet, obeying traffics laws), they are “ticketed” by the police. The ticket is a food coupon redeemable at K’s Hamburger Shop or Tim Horton’s.
MBAC would like to see more adults enrolled in their safety classes. Yay Bike Ride is hosted by the Ohio Department of Transportation. Riders are directed in riding through town on surface streets. How We Roll is another group ride, stressing bicycle safety. How We Roll will be held April 27 and June 15.
Ride alone, ride with a group, ride on the trail, ride on the road. Just ride safely. Just ride.
Marla Boone resides in Covington and writes for the Troy Daily News and Piqua Daily Call.