Get in Gear for Bike Week 2017
pedal-powered events include baseball, brewery rides
Biking is more than a mode of transportation. It’s a way to explore and connect with the community, and also take things a little easier on the environment.
That’s what Jeremy Gragert, a local bike advocate and former volunteer for the Wisconsin Bike Federation, believes. And that’s what Bike Week, June 5-12, is all about.
“The bicycle has a unique power to empower people and open up possibilities in a way that’s affordable and doesn’t endanger others on the road or impact climate change,” Gragert said. “It can actually be a healing mechanism for cities.”
The Wisconsin Bike Federation coordinates Bike Week in cities throughout the state each year, and this year Altoona is joining in on the events.
Gragert said the events are designed to show people how accessible and easy biking is. Some of them incorporate things that are already happening in the area, such as biking to the Eau Claire Express game at 5:30pm on Wednesday, June 7. People simply show up at the specified location and bike to the event together.
“It’s not a long ride, but it’s a way to support local events and show they could bike to these things all summer,” Gragert said. “It’s a social thing in many ways and a way to appreciate one’s community.”
Unlike driving, biking offers a mode of transportation that doesn’t take up a lot of space, is affordable, and allows riders to slow down and enjoy the community as well as connect with others.
All of the events are free and open to the public, a testament to the activity.
“That just shows how accessible biking is, it doesn’t cost us anything to fund most of these,” he said.
After a storm cancelled his favorite event last year, Gragert is looking forward to Bikes, Bridges & Brews on Friday, June 9. The group bikes a route including many bridges and ends at either The Brewing Projekt or Lazy Monk Brewing.
But mostly, he’s just excited to share with the community what biking is all about. While he considers Eau Claire a bike-friendly city, he said routes can be confusing if you’re new to the area. “There are really great ways to bike around town … but you really have to know what you’re doing,” Gragert said.
Gragert, who helped create Bike Chippewa Valley, a loosely organized group of bike advocates, also helped create the Chippewa Valley Bike Map in 2015. The free publication shows the safest routes for bikers in Eau Claire, Altoona, Lake Hallie, and Chippewa Falls. He is working on updating the map for 2018.