Grand Rapids 5 Foot Passing Ordinance - Reminder.

Radar measuring equipment and video recorder used to document passing motorists.

Radar measuring equipment and video recorder used to document passing motorists.

In 2015 Grand Rapids passed a city ordinance requiring motorists to leave a minimum of 5 feet between cars and cyclists when cars pass on streets. In years since, it’s been accompanied by media programs to inform the public, using billboards, city bus graphics, social networks and news media. Motorists and cyclists have both benefitted from those programs. Good stuff and a great city.

In the spring of 2018, a study was initiated to measure passing clearances between cars and bicycles so results of the latest media program might be evaluated. 6 riders were part of the study and they used distance measuring radar on their bicycles as they rode city streets in all 3 wards. Findings of the study were regularly published on signs around town and noted anywhere from 69-83% compliance with the 5 foot passing distance by motorists. The study period ran from June 2018 through January 2019.

During nearly the same time as the study, the Grand Rapids Police Department used their own riders and assisting officers in police cruisers to measure and begin enforcement of passing clearances. They pulled over 146 motorists and issued warnings about the new ordinance. 3 motorists were ticketed when the officers sensed it was appropriate for the situation. On several occasions the GRPD actually pulled motorists over by catching up to them on bicycles. That’s an interesting concept.

All in all, last years media program and study results were interpreted as positive for cyclist-motorist interactions. During 2018, car-bicycle accidents were the lowest since 2008 and we had zero fatalities of cyclists in the city. So if you’re in a car, here’s a reminder to please leave 5 feet minimum clearance when passing cyclists. If you’re on a bike, please obey traffic laws like motorists and be careful out there. If we all do that, maybe we can get even better results this year.

Test equipment in use. Police use a similar setup.

Test equipment in use. Police use a similar setup.


30 Days of Biking Pledge

A really nice April ride.

A really nice April ride.

Maybe you’ve done this before - it’s a great way to kick start your cycling season. The idea: Make a pledge to ride your bike every day in April and share your experience on social media with the hashtag #30daysofbiking. Maybe #bikeGR too.

To quote from the 30 days of biking website: “There’s no minimum distance - down hill and around your garage count just like a 20 mile commute or 350 mile charity ride. If you miss a day, no worries. Just keep riding and don’t give up! It’s all for giggles, or as serious as you want it to be. What matters is that we’re all in this together. And yep, spin class counts!”

I really like that this is easy to do and it motivates me. Confession time: I’ve simply ridden around the block once on a miserable wet day. OK. I maybe did that twice but I made it out every day of the month. Rumor has it that one of the GGRBC board members even rode in their pajamas when they’d almost forgotten and it was nearly bedtime. No matter - it’s fun and nobody will check up on you. It feels so good to get back outside on a bike - maybe even in shorts on a nice sunny day. The hardest part is getting started and out the door. An added bonus I found out this year - those rainy day spin classes count too! YES!

You can enter and make a pledge officially at www.30daysofbiking.com. Or just share your experience informally on social media. Challenge your friends to pledge too. Double dog dare them. Triple dog dare them. Take photos. Write stories. Pump up those tires and have fun. Start your season off with a smile and make sure to tag whatever you share with #30daysofbiking and #bikeGR. Happy riding.

It might be warm and sunny with a friend.

It might be warm and sunny with a friend.

Or maybe like April 15, 2018 at Too Tall’s Ice Cream.

Or maybe like April 15, 2018 at Too Tall’s Ice Cream.

It won't be long now...

Wet toes are worth it!

Wet toes are worth it!

OK. It’s still wintery outside, maybe with slush, ice and cold. You can’t ride or you don’t want to. Even though you probably already know this stuff, heres a reminder about some cycling things you should be doing.

Take some time to look over your bike, clean off last falls dirt and get it ready to ride. Things you should definitely review are chain wear, cables, wheel bearings, headset, bottom bracket and tires. If you don’t know how to check those things you can always refer to online resources like Sheldon Brown or Park tool. Bike maintenance is fairly simple and it’s great to have knowledge when you have a problem on the road. If you’d rather have a shop maintain your bike, take it in now when they’re not so busy and you’ll be ready on the first warm day - coming soon. Your local shop will appreciate you doing this now instead of in May when they’re swamped after the first warm days. Another great option: visit one of the local bicycle co-ops for some hands on help to do-it yourself.

You might also take inventory of your cycling gear. Check out your lights, bags, helmet, and wash what needs washing. That funky smelling helmet too. Decide what’s worn out, what can be repaired and what needs to be replaced. You might still find some deals on last seasons clothing or helmets if needed.

For yourself, it’s not too late to try some group fitness to get ready for the season. Several local shops host indoor cycling sessions. YMCA spin classes are great too.

Finally, you can always brave the wet cold and go out for a ride. The first warm spring days aren’t far off.