PedNet Coalition members believe their vision of a pedestrian-friendly Columbia is getting closer, judging from the record participation and increase in corporate sponsorship for this year’s Bike, Walk and Wheel Week.
The event, part of the third annual Mayor’s Challenge, starts today and continues to May 16. This year’s participation is expected to exceed last year’s, which had 950 participants. Official registration begins today at 1 p.m. at the ARC, corner of Clinkscales and Ash streets.
Indeed, Mayor Darwin Hindman is issuing a “challenge” to Columbia residents — to “get people active in the week, to walk, bike or use their wheelchair.”
Involvement has increased since the first Bike, Walk and Wheel Week in 2002.
“When we first started out, we were an unknown,” said Judy Knudy, coordinator of the event. “As we’ve been successful, people are more eager to contribute, and they’ve helped a lot.”
Knudy said the amount of corporate sponsorship also has increased since 2002. One of the long-term supporters of the event is Patty Clover of Clovers Natural Market.
An avid cyclist, she said the town initially “wasn’t friendly” to cyclists, but now “people are more aware, and they are better with sharing the roads.”
Knudy attributes this to the past successes of the Bike, Walk and Wheel Week, which has highlighted the need for safety etiquette among road users and served as a platform for feedback.
Jeff Bryan, a veterinarian who participated in the event and commutes by bicycle, said he saw more people walking or bicycling. “A lot more kids in the neighborhood are walking to school,” he said.
Knudy said she hopes the event will convince people of the joys of an active lifestyle.
“I hope to see bicyclists, walkers and people in cars coexist peacefully,” she said. “It’s important for them to know they have a choice.”