HCP Highlights: Celebrating Bicycling in Warren—A Cycle in Evolution
Reflecting on a Proud History with Bike to Work Warren to a Promising Future with Trumbull County Bike Fest at the Warren-Trumbull County Library, Walk and Bike to School Days, and Beyond
Contributors: Jenna Amerine and Denise Rising
Though the Healthy Community Partnership is still relatively new, the partners and their work have been present and pushing for change for many years. But, the members of HCP recognize that no one organization, or one city or one county for that matter, can create and continue the kind of change that many of us have been fighting for. We also know that projects alone are not enough to create and sustain large, long-term change. Projects need to inform changes to policies, practices, and procedures to make sure that there is a solid foundation to look back to and keep us focused as we continue to move forward.
In the meantime, it is important to HCP and our partners to recognize and celebrate the work of our individual partners. The hope that by doing so, others will be inspired to jump on board and to keep those who are already on the journey pedaling ahead down the path.
One such example that celebrates May as National Bike Month and the work of our partners’ historic work and its evolution is Bike to Work Warren and Trumbull County Bike Fest.
Bike to Work Warren
Bike to Work Warren began in 2012 to promote riding your bicycle to and from work to encourage being physically active and using your bicycle as another mode of transportation. The Bike to Work Warren Committee consisted of health and bicycle advocates, community stakeholders, and city officials. The Committee continues to host the event annually on National Bike to Work Day to encourage active transportation in Warren City. During the Bike to Work Warren Event Panera breakfast is provided by a donor and many other donations are raffled off along with a free Bike to Work Warren t-shirt. Attendance of the annual event has ranged from 40-70 bicyclists, mainly depending on weather. Bike to Work Warren continues to promote the use of your bicycle as a mode of transportation, while being physically active. For more Bike to Work Warren updates and information, “like” and follow us on Facebook.
– Jenna Amerine
Trumbull County Bike Fest
The first Trumbull County Bike Fest 2019 featured sunshine, an enthusiastic collaboration of community partners; and excited participants. Bicycle riders of all
ages brought their bicycles for a safety and maintenance check from Yay! Bikes Trainers. Free bicycle helmets from Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley were fitted. The Warren Kiwanis gave away free bicycle themed books, including books for the area Little Free Libraries. There was an informative presentation inside the library from Trumbull County MetroParks board member Nicolette Darkangelo about the Western Reserve Greenway Bike Trail. The children’s library outdoor area featured art projects and life sized chalk drawings. A bike safety rodeo was enjoyed by the youngest attendee. Wearing his new helmet and riding his tricycle, he was cheered on by his mom, dad and baby sister as he pedaled through the course complete with crosswalks and stop signs.
Over a dozen enthusiastic bicyclists participated in the group bike ride at the close of the first bike fest. Adults and children successfully obeyed the rules of the road riding 5 miles of city streets and the bike trail before returning to the Warren-Trumbull County library grounds. They were rewarded with a new confidence for navigating city streets and granola bars and cold water on a warm day. A great bicycle experience in Warren!
Ms. Amerine and Ms. Rising have become a dynamic duo to promote safe bicycling in Warren and Trumbull County. They have built new partnerships and connections among community organizations as well as with local elected officials to secure buy-in for the many benefits of bicycling for personal, environmental, and economic health. Looking ahead, the long-standing Bike to Work Warren event will continue to roll out each spring (well, fall for 2020 due to COVID-19 complications), and hopefully the same will be true for Trumbull Bike Fest as a new tradition to greet bikers of all ages and abilities each summer.
To make sure that bicyclists feel encouraged and supported in their decision to ride rather than drive, more work is needed to ensure that the infrastructure, literally and figuratively, is in place to support bicyclist safety. To accomplish this, Warren has been exploring the implementation of a Complete Streets policy. That might sound a little vague or confusing, but a Complete Streets policy is really pretty simple. A Complete Streets policy would make sure that our streets are designed for everyone.
Complete Streets are designed and operated to enable safe access for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders of all ages and abilities. Complete Streets make it easy to cross the street, walk to shops, and bicycle to work. [ ] Complete Streets help create livable communities for various types of users, including children, people with disabilities, and older adults. Complete Streets improve equity, safety, and public health, while reducing transportation costs and traffic woes.
Members of HCP celebrate the accomplishments that our partners in Trumbull County have achieved over the years while promoting and advocating for bicycle safety and bicycling for transportation, especially since it may feel like an uphill climb, both ways, sometimes. Much ground has been covered, and we are excited to keep riding along the trail together.