By Erin Crowell
Just over a year ago, Bill Palladino handed his nephew the keys and title to his 2002 Saturn Vue and walked away from car ownership -- well, pedaled away is more like it.
The Traverse City independent consultant prefers cycling as his main form of transportation. Being the thorough creature that he is, Palladino broke down his vehicle-vs.-bicycle usage into two separate financial charts.
What was one of his main discoveries? In most cases individual vehicle ownership has a negative net effect on local economies. This means that on average more vehicle-related expenses leave the community than stay locally, he reports in the online article Making the Leap - Going Carless (see mywheelsareturning.com).
In other words, biking--along with other forms of alternate transportation--has very little negative impact on the local community. Actually, few will argue that the actual benefits of a biking community lies solely in the realm of economics.
A WEEK OF WHEELS
Think of a town that embraces bicycles. Theres less traffic, noise and pollution. Life seems to slow down. Look around the local neighborhoods of Northern Michigan. The region continues to grow as a biking community, with several trails and biker-friendly road projects; and most outstandingly, the group of cyclist teams and races held throughout the year.
This week marks the culmination of such events with the Third Coast Bicycle Festival, held Aug. 22-29 throughout Traverse City and the surrounding area. Eight organizations will present their activity, normally spread throughout the summer calendar.
Palladino, head of the Fixed Gear Symposium event, is one of the several bike-minded persons that, as he says, just seemed to think about such a festival at the same time.
We wanted to compress all these events into one week that would really have an impact on the community, says Palladino.
The week starts with the popular Traverse City Triathlon on Sunday; and will wrap up with the road cycling enthusiasts popular Cherry-Roubaix, a three-day event of sprints, criterium and road racing.
Roubaix officials are expecting larger registration numbers than the first two years, according to Tim Barrons, head of marketing and one of the four race directors of the Roubaix.
Additionally, the Roubaix is one of several featured events that will make the Third Coast Bike Fest a memorable one for all types of spectators and cyclists.
(The festival) is reaching out to the fringes of cycling, he explains. Its not just the road racers or tourists. Its kids, families, safety demos people who take part in the trial or BMX events. Were introducing them to all aspects of bicycling.
The more adventurous crowd will enjoy the 2 Wheel Technique trials, where participants will execute what is called observe trials of riding up, over and off various obstacles including park benches, fences, steps and more.
For a different type of competition, spectators can check out the Fixed Gear Symposiums bike polo match happening on Saturday; as well as the Twin Bays CycloCross a cross-country circuit race that will take riders directly through the Traverse City Microbrew & Music Festival tent on Friday at the Grand Traverse Commons.
Getting this festival together hasnt been a burden for really anyone, Barrons explains, because wed be doing all these events anyway. The concept is all the same: were here to promote the fun you can have.
While Traverse City continues to pedal forward, many--including Palladino--agree theres many miles to cover when it comes to creating a bicycle, and alternative transportation-friendly community.
The Third Coast Bicycle Festival is just one of those milestones.
Im hoping people will come into town this week and think, Wow, this place really embraces the biking lifestyle, says Palladino. Its not just crazy road racers wearing lycra spandex costumes, its about kids riding safely and families learning to fix their bikes. Its so much more.
Go the Distance:
Highlights of the Third Coast Bicycle Festival include the following:
Cherry Capital Cycling Club Group Rides various distances and locations throughout the Grand Traverse region, held all week
Fixed Gear Symposium rides and challenges, including the mechanics race on Friday, bike polo on Saturday and the Hell Yes Sprints on Saturday evening.
Friday Night Live held on Front Street in downtown Traverse City, 5:30-9 p.m., featuring a childrens bike rodeo, bike sprints and live music.
The Twin Bays Racing CycloCross on Friday evening, featuring a cross-country ride through the tent of the Traverse City Microbrew & Music Festival at the Grand Traverse Commons
The Cherry-Roubaix, featuring the Old Town Criterium, where cyclists race through the brick-paved streets, like a traditional European race, is happening on Saturday. Sunday features the 13.7-mile road race near Cedar.
For a complete schedule of events, including registration and spectator info, visit tcbikefest.org.