Last week’s May 1st Bike to Breakfast ride was the kick off for the city’s BIKE! Charlotte seventeen-day event scheduled May 1 through May 17, the purpose of which is to promote the use of bikes across Charlotte for commuting, recreation, competition, and community connectedness. Charlotte Department of Transportation Bicycle Program and Charlotte Sports Cycling are spearheading the event, but support comes from broad swaths of our city.
The event’s “Riding for a Better Community” theme seemed to galvanize a self-fulfilling prophesy that shouldn’t have been surprising but still gave me reason to pause…
Riding with this group of about 200 made me realize that recreational sporting activities are one thing that seems to transcend some of the persistent challenges in our society (and our nation), such as race and gender relations, both hot topics given riots in Baltimore and a national debate over wage inequality. We left all that behind to ride.
Donning our helmets and riding slowly in a gaggle, departing from the Dowd Y (and from Park Road Mall) through Uptown as the city became alive, all that mattered was that each of us was on a bike.
Young and old, black and white, men and women, executive and unemployed, pro triathlete and straggler, handicap and able-body, gay and straight hit the streets in solidarity. The oldest and youngest among us had 79 years between them. (The eldest, who calls himself a Luddite, showed me a 1947 picture of himself racing in England on a single gear. Sweet.)
After a 1.5 mile ride, we all assembled at government center for a hearty breakfast and chit-chat about new bike lanes, the possible real estate development of a Rails to Trails bike path from South End to NoDa, upcoming time trial races, and Sunday afternoon Bike Up brewery rides at Old Mecklenberg Brewery.
Yep…Bikers gonna bike. Doesn’t matter who you are (though some guys seem to care a little about what you ride). I borrowed my hubby’s hipster single gear bike so people would notice the wheels and not the fact that I just rolled out of bed.
Charlotteans are very active bikers! Many tribes were represented on Friday, including representatives from the following serious riding and not-so-serious social groups. Nicknames like the “Godfather” and “Mayor of Bike Town” were used, like we should all know them (now I do!). Even the Bike Law Lady, Ann Groninger was there. (If you get hit on the streets of Charlotte, now you know whom to call.)
Representatives from Charlotte City Center Partners and the Knight Foundation, which just gave a $600,000 grant to community orgs to improve access to cycling, were there as well. (Non-bikers gonna bike, too!)
Our city is one of the fastest growing in the nation, and with the help of visionary leaders like these, we’ll hopefully become one of the most bike-friendly communities soon, too.
If you’re looking for ways to get connected in Charlotte, learn about recreational cycling events, trail riding, or bike for your brew, check out this sample of some of the great local organizations and grab your wheels!
- Crank Mafia
- Dirt Divas and Tarheel Trailblazers – Women’s mountain biking and trail riding group.
- B-Cycles – With 200 blue bikes and 24 stations strategically placed throughout Uptown and surrounding neighborhoods from JCSU to Freedom Park, these B-Stations are a fun, economical, and easy way to make your commute to work or plan a fun date night.
- COCAC – Charlotte’s premiere early morning training ride group for 20-60 riders. The group meets at the corner of Corner of Carmel and Colony (thus the name).
- Weekly Rides – A clearing house for all-things cycling (competitions and social rides) in Charlotte with over 5,000 followers.
- Trips for Kids – A non-profit organization that provides mentoring for kids through bicycling experiences in the bike shop and on the trails.
- Spoke Easy – Bike shop with the coolest name.
- Uptown Cycles – My favorite bike shop and compu-train studio in town.
For more info on upcoming BIKE! Charlotte events, bike (or click) Bike! Charlotte