City of Manhattan, local businesses celebrate bike month

Parker Robb | Collegian Cyclists pass in front of houses on 14th Street during one of the criterium races of the Tallgrass Classic, held Sunday on a lap course around City Park. This weekend’s races were just one of the events taking place during bike month this year. “We just like seeing people outdoors and on a bicycle,” said Aaron Apel, co-owner of Big Poppi Bicycle Company.

This month, the city of Manhattan and local businesses are giving people an opportunity to celebrate national bike month. Bike month, which has been a weeklong celebration in past years, gives the public a chance to participate in various events that promote bicycling.

The progressive dinner, a kick-off event, had previously been scheduled for last Friday, but was pushed back to May 16 due to weather. The dinner gives riders a chance to ride from La Hacienda to AJ’s NY Pizzeria, ending at City Park, with food provided at each stop. Other events open to the public this month include a bike and brunch, a ride with Mayor John Matta across town and a celebration for bike enthusiasts at Radina’s Coffeehouse and Roastery in Aggieville.

Aaron Apel, co-owner and operator of Big Poppi Bicycle Company, hopes bike month can bring awareness to bicycling and to the store.

“We just like seeing people outdoors and on a bicycle,” Apel said. “The intention with these different events is to encourage as many people of all ages and skill levels to get involved in biking.”

On May 21, there will be a bicycle advisory committee meeting at City Hall. This meeting occurs every month and the public is encouraged to come and discuss various bike regulations within the city.

David Colburn, who serves on the bicycle advisory committee and manages The Pathfinder, an outdoor equipment store, said he believes bike month can encourage people to become more active.

“We hope that people come try something,” Colburn said. “Most of the events are designed to accommodate novice riders, and there are some pretty good perks out there.”

One perk Colburn mentioned was that every Monday at Varsity Donuts from 6 to 9 a.m., those riding to work or school can get a free drink with the purchase of a donut. Patrons must also present a helmet, since safe riding practices are being encouraged.

Not only are local businesses getting involved in the celebration of bike month, but the Riley County Police Department also held events last week to promote bike safety and awareness. A bike ride across the Linear Trail led by four members of the bike team brought members of the community together to share their enthusiasm for biking.

Public Information Officer Matthew Droge said he hopes to become more involved with the public and aims to make sure that people are more prepared to operate their bikes in heavily congested areas.

“Whether it’s this month or over the summer, the bike team is interested in getting with the community more for rides and safety tips,” Droge said.

Later this month officers will attend local elementary schools to teach bike safety and proper bike maintenance.

Apel said he hopes that this month can bring awareness to a larger problem facing the community.

“Manhattan is obviously a denser community and cars are not the answer to solving all of our traffic issues,” Apel said. “The sooner people realize that, I think, the easier it will be for people to hang out, get along and be healthier.”