City bike ride promotes healthy living, new routes

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Sunday felt like a day to stay inside, but a group of Topeka bike riders bundled up and braved the cold to kick off National Bike Month.

Bicycle groups are pushing to make Topeka a bike friendly city.

“I know when I was a teenager before I could drive, I rode my bike to the mall from east Topeka,” says Brian Austin, a Topeka bike club member.

Austin wants his three children to appreciate bike riding the way he does.

“I moved out to Lake Shawnee ’cause of the trail they built there and just having those facilities just improves the community,” Austin says.

The Kaw Valley Bike Club, Topeka Community Cycle Project, and Topeka Bikeways partnered up for the 10-mile Tour de Topeka, to promote using the bike pedal instead of the gas pedal.

“It feels simpler and you also feel more in touch with your community, like literally you have time to observe your community a little more ’cause you’re at a slower pace,” says board member for Topeka Cycle Project Andy Fry.

As part of the route, organizers stopped to show riders new crosswalks, which are some of the first steps in the city’s new bikeways system.

“Trying to hit some of the streets to show people some of the other things that we’re trying to do here in Topeka with bikes, routes, signage,” says organizer Alan Apel.

“You got those areas that are kind of isolated and it needs connections, it needs to be a network, it needs to be connected, and we’re working on that with the bikeways plan,” says Austin.

The ride is chance to show some of those bikeways plans and to stretch out those legs after a long, lingering winter.

“We’ve got different age groups, people with different capabilities, we’ve got some kids out here, so we’ve got a wide demographic of riders,” Apel says.

“Mainly it’s coming out and having a fun time with family and getting some exercise and getting away from the video games,” adds Austin.

At Tuesday’s city council meeting, members of the Kaw Valley bike club will have a proclamation declaring May Topeka Bike Month. Later this week they will have a ride with City Manager Jim Colson.

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