More bikers. More bike lanes. More work to be done.
"Demand for GGRBC's
advocacy and services keeps growing," says Executive Director Tom Tilma. "Business and government are seeing the benefits of an appealing, active community that provides options for getting around. I've been serving as executive director since June of last year and we've been getting things done with help from our wonderful interns, board members, and volunteers, but our board determined additional staff would provide consistency and help us accelerate our response to new opportunities."
The new position, Development Coordinator, will be responsible for managing relationships between donors, members and volunteers within the GGRBC ecosystem plus help spread the GGBRC story beyond the existing constituency.
Tilma is very optimistic about the Grand Rapids bike scene. He notes that there is still a lot to be done when it comes to infrastructure but the numbers are all trending in the right direction. "The cycling culture in metro Grand Rapids is stronger than ever," Tilma says. "In 2012 Bicycling Magazine ranked the City of Grand Rapids the 41st best cycling city out of the 320 largest cities in the U.S."
In terms of infrastructure, he says that there is still a need for more bike lanes, which play an important role in the community. "Bike lanes help connect neighborhoods to shopping, jobs, and the multi-use path system. In 2012 the Bicycle Coalition launched Room to Ride, our campaign for bike lanes on 100 miles of streets in the region by the end of 2015. We've been advising and assisting local governments with grants, planning, and engineering, and we're thrilled the metro bike lane total is now 43 miles in four cities."
Tilma acknowledges the inevitable growth pains as more cyclist, motorists, and transit riders learn to share the roads but says everything will work out over time. "There are good and bad cyclists and good and bad motorists, but we're getting better at sharing the road here. Drivers are accepting that cyclists are here to stay and realizing they now need to look for cyclists any time of the day or night, any time of the year. Infrastructure, education, and enforcement will keep the momentum going. This year the City of Grand Rapids will be starting a major share-the-road education campaign for motorists and cyclists. That's very encouraging, and we hope to be involved in some way in that exciting project," says Tilma.
To learn more about Greater Grand Rapids Bicycle Coalition you can view their site here.
Writer: John Rumery, Innovation and Jobs News editor