Grab your popcorn and take a seat to enjoy Trans4M’s Summer Showcase Blog Series! The series will showcase our talented member groups as they embark on a summer filled with events and activities. But don’t just read about all the activities, join them! Make your summer one to remember with Trans4M and our one-of-a-kind member groups. In our first blog post, we highlight the League of Michigan Bicyclists (LMB). LMB is a nonprofit statewide membership organization striving to create a safe and bike-friendly Michigan. The group is active in a variety of forms, from organizing bike tours to bicycle advocacy days. We spoke with LMB’s Communications and Development Coordinator, Jeana-Dee Allen, to get the inside scoop on the current bike culture in Michigan.
Bicycling in Michigan is nothing new. Bicyclists have taken to the streets and trails for over a century here. Yet, today, bicycling is taking on a new form. It is becoming increasingly formalized. Allen tells us, “Groups like Slow Roll, Lansing Bike Party, TC Rides: Norte! Youth Cycling and others have informally ‘formalized’ something we’ve all been doing for years: gathering a group of friends and neighbors and going on a ride.” These groups utilize social media and partner with businesses to create a network of bike enthusiasts that coordinate events. By having coordinated, formalized events to get riders together, local community businesses are able to profit from the influx of riders into the area. Biking has an impressive economic impact on Michigan. According to MDOT, bicycling has a total annual impact of $668 million. If that isn’t impressive enough, the Outdoor Industry Foundation estimates that national effects of all bicycling-related activities could be as large as $133 billion, supporting 1.1 million jobs and generating $17.7 billion in federal, state and local taxes. Encouraging greater bike use in Michigan consequently encourages economic development.
Promoting safe streets to ride on is critical for bicycling culture in Michigan. LMB takes an active role in promoting safe bike policies at the state level. When asked why LMB is involved in advocacy, Allen explained that “it is important for anyone who cycles (or has friends and family who ride) to be actively involved in legislation. These laws directly impact safety on the roads. The time you spend as an advocate is an investment in your safety and that of your friends and family.” As a means to connect riders to their legislators, LMB hosts Lucinda Means Bicycle Advocacy Day every May, with Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance, Michigan Mountain Biking Association and PEAC. The League has experienced great success by helping pass Complete Streets initiatives and the Nathan Bower Act, which requires driver’s education to teach bicycle and motorcycle awareness. But if Lansing isn’t your scene, there are many ways to get involved with LMB this summer. Strap on your bicycle helmet and get ready for LMB’s summer bicycle tour events and experience Pure Michigan from the seat of your bike. Allen says the tours allow “participants [to] experience canopied roads, shoreline vistas, local shops, smooth terrains, historic spaces and so much more. When you cycle Michigan, your perspective is more intimate than seen from behind a windshield. Tour participants are able to stop and take photos next to fields of sunflowers, go to a shipwreck museum, camp with friends and family and experience Michigan at a much slower pace.” LMB tours have seen impressive growth over the years. Ridership has increased and two tours, the Shoreline West tour and the MUP tour will have anniversaries next year with Shoreline West turning 30 and MUP turning 15. In addition to promoting cycling in Michigan, the tours also help support LMB’s advocacy and education efforts. “Proceeds from our tours directly fund initiatives like our ‘What Every Young Michigan Bicyclist Must Know’ booklets. Tour riders not only are a part of an unforgettable experience, they actively fund sustainable efforts to educate drivers, people who ride bicycles and youth on how to be safe on the roadways,” Allen says. The 2015 tours are: MUP (Michigan Upper Peninsula) – July 12-18: The Michigan Upper Peninsula tour. Shoreline West Bicycle Tour – August 2-8: The Shoreline West Bicycle Tour, Montague to Mackinaw City. Pedal & Paddle – September 18-20: Join LMB as they take to not only the trails, but the rivers too! Paddle on and ride along the Rocky, St. Joseph and the Portage rivers. More information about LMB tours is at: www.LMB.org/tours. If you cannot make it to one of the four LMB hosted bike rides, check out LMB’s Michigan Ride Calendar for other bike tours throughout Michigan! For addition information, contact Jeana-Dee Allen, LMB’s Communications and Development Coordinator, at jd@LMB.org Images used with permission from LMB’s Flickr photos. Written by: Hannah Lensing,Trans4M Fellow