Bike, Walk & Wheel Week kicks off at Flat Branch Park

Saturday, May 2, 2009 | 5:35 p.m. CDT; updated 9:38 a.m. CDT, Monday, May 4, 2009
George Stevenson stands silently next to the stage with a bag for donations. Though he couldn't speak, being a statue, event organizer Janet Godon said this was Stevenson's first time as a statue performer and the idea stemmed from street performers in San Francisco.

COLUMBIA – With a long blast from a bike-mounted air horn, the Bike, Walk & Wheel Week Kick-Off Celebration began Saturday afternoon at Flat Branch Park.

The event, hosted by GetAbout Columbia, is the official start to the weeklong program aimed at promoting transportation alternatives to cars.


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Originating with a 2001 challenge by Mayor Darwin Hindman to bike, walk or wheel to their destinations in an attempt to curb traffic congestion and promote healthier lifestyles, the event has seen participation grow annually. In 2008, the event drew 4,500 participants, a number event coordinator Janet Godon hopes will be topped this year.

“We really wanted to enhance the events this year. This year we have a booth on recycling, chalk drawing and the live music. We really tried to add art and culture to the experience,” Godon said.

Along with the performers (including “living statue” George Stevenson) the kickoff event hosted booths by several area bike stores, safety seminars by the Columbia Police Department, an appearance by MU basketball coach Mike Anderson and demonstrations by CoMo Polo, a Columbia bike polo organization.

“Bike, Walk & Wheel Week is all about being active and creative and incorporating other modes of transportation aside from your vehicle,” Godon said. “People shouldn’t always feel like they need use a car. Think about bicycling or walking for trips less than three miles.”

That may have been a sermon to the choir, as the vast majority of participants at Saturday’s even arrived by foot or self-powered wheel. In fact, the League of American Bicyclists, a nationwide organization of cyclists and affiliated organizations, has named Columbia a Silver Level Bicycle Friendly Community.

The award recognizes communities for their efforts to increase bicycling and community achievements in the categories of engineering, education, encouragement, enforcement, evaluation and planning. Columbia is the first community in Missouri to receive such a distinction.

“Columbia is pretty good to cyclists. My wife and I teach commuter safety and confident city cycling for GetAbout. We’re hoping for a modal shift to bikes,” said a laughing Tim Overshiner, owner of Overshiner Remodeling.

Overshiner rode around the event on a bike outfitted with a cargo trailer and homemade cargo bins, which he uses when buying groceries and when transporting tools to remodeling sites.

“It’s cheaper than running a big truck back and forth. Most everyone delivers materials themselves so there’s really no need,” Overshiner said.

That’s exactly the kind of mindset GetAbout organizers are aiming to promote throughout the week’s events.

“Alternative transport is not an all-or-nothing experience. Even I don’t do it when it’s inconvenient,” Godon said. “But there are many ways you can fit it into your day and into your lifestyle. That’s what this is about, encouraging people to be creative and active with their transportation.”

Bike, Walk & Wheel Week continues until Saturday culminating with a 7-mile ride to Twin Lakes Shelter on the MKT Trail. Registration is free and can be done at the week's events or online at

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Ray Shapiro May 2, 2009 | 5:54 p.m.

("Godon said. “People shouldn’t always feel like they need use a car.”)
Ms. Godon: Why do I need you to tell me what my options are? You must think I'm twice as stupid as my friends think I am.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking May 3, 2009 | 8:33 a.m.

Of course you know what your options are. However, you are addicted to effortless personal mobility, and would perhaps benefit from addressing that addiction. So would most of the rest of our society.

If automobiles were an infectious disease (causing 43,000 deaths/year) they would be considered our number one public health hazard. However, since we love our mobility so much, they are not, and in fact are greatly subsidized and encouraged.


(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley May 3, 2009 | 12:29 p.m.

Mark; here is where we disagree a little...

In your opinion, what qualifies as an addiction to "effortless personal mobility"? The fact that I choose to drive my car to work every day? Is that REALLY an addiction? I mean, do I start to shake and tremble, sweat, feel some type of pain, and/or get sick if I don't drive my car for a week? I stay home for a week or two sometimes, and it does not bother me that I choose not to drive my car...

I think that your statement is either your method of humor or grossly inaccurate. I think the choice to drive instead of bike is just that; simply a personal choice.

I have no problem with you biking to work each day, as a matter of fact I respect the fact that you want to bike to work. But, you really should have no problem with me driving to work either, and should respect the fact that my personal choice is to plop my fat ass in an air conditioned/heated environment that will allow me to move from point A to point B at a high rate of speed compared to peddling a bicycle! Especially since I run a business that can take me all over the state, and often times takes me all over Boone County.


(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr May 3, 2009 | 12:38 p.m.

>>> Ricky Gurley April 29, 2009 | 2:46 p.m.
Hi, This is Rick Gurley, I am 5'3", 350 Lbs, blind in one eye, with heart disease, but I have always wanted to play football. <<<

If I was that size I surely would not want to ride a bike

Sorry Rick I could not resist temptation there. No hard feelings man but I totally agree with your opinions stated to Mark and other readers on this issue.

You are right in your last part of your commentary to the "T".

It is a matter of choice not because you actually want to or need to because somebody else thinks so.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking May 7, 2009 | 9:28 a.m.

Rick wrote:

"But, you really should have no problem with me driving to work either,"

The issue with that, and what BWW week is trying to show, is that a bicycle is a real alternative to a car. If our resources were unlimited, whether you drove to work would not matter. But since everyone in the developing world wants a car, pretty soon everyone's ability to drive as they please will be affected.

As this develops, you'll either have to raise the cost of your services to cover the cost of fuel, or have to do an increasing part of your work by teleconference or other non-gasoline consuming method. If more people would regard their auto as transportation of last resort, that will make available that much more fuel for those that really need it.

Here's why I call our love affair with cars an addiction:

A car give us a lot of power, and it's all ours. That's a very intoxicating thing. It allows us to live in ways we'd never live before. People use drugs for a similar reason - it changes the way they have to look at the world. Sure, the actions are very different, but the pleasure is much the same, whether we recognize it as pleasure or not.

We will spend inordinate amounts of money to maintain that power. We will put up with tens of thousands of largely avoidable deaths to maintain it. We will mortgage the energy future of our world to maintain it, even when there are viable alternatives available for many.

Many no longer know what they would do without that power. They have made choices, and are now dependent on that power to keep living. Like a drug addict, the loss of that power would make their lives very uncomfortable for a time. They'll in fact waste a considerable part of their power to avoid withdrawal, just trying to maintain, as drivers did in Atlanta last September.

I'm not saying you don't need to drive, Rick. But it is likely you don't need to drive as much as you do. If people thought of alternatives first, it would mean that people will continue to be able to drive when they really need to.


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