COLUMBIA —A parade of bicycles glided through the streets of Columbia on Friday, pulling trailers packed with envelopes, desk chairs and other office supplies. It was moving day for the PedNet Coalition, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advocating non-motorized transportation.
Coalition staff and about 20 volunteers used bicycles, backpacks and bike trailers to move the home offices of the five staff members to the organization’s new location at 101 N. Seventh St. The Coalition will share the space with the city’s PedNet Project, Columbia’s complement to the nonprofit group.
PedNet Project planned infrastructure changes for spring 2008 Bike lanes are scheduled to be added at these locations: • Old 63, between Business Loop 70 and Stadium Boulevard • Chapel Hill Road between Forum and Scott boulevards • Fifth Street.
The move came after the Coalition signed a contract with Vangel Marketing Communications of Columbia on Wednesday to continue advocating a bike-friendly Columbia, said Ian Thomas, executive director.
Vangel, hired by the city to oversee Pednet’s education efforts, will fund PedNet with money from the $25 million Federal Non-Motorized Transportation Pilot Program grant awarded to Columbia in 2005.
Columbia is one of four cities in the country to receive the grant, which is intended to enhance trails and roads for biking and walking.
The new office will bring the PedNet Coalition and the city’s PedNet Project under one roof, and provide a centralized information center.
“I think one of the great benefits is that the general public will be able to walk in and have a conversation with PedNet staff one-on-one,” said Janet Godon, the PedNet Coalition’s outreach coordinator.
While the city’s PedNet Project will concentrate on infrastructure issues such as designing bike routes, the PedNet Coalition is responsible for advocacy, education, support and encouragement.
The PedNet Coalition was established in 2000 as a volunteer group. In 2003, the organization started writing grants and funding staff and education programs, but did not have money for an office. So the staff worked from home, Thomas said.
Thomas said the coalition chose to move by bike to draw attention to nonmotorized transportation and to illustrate the organization’s devotion to its ideals.
The benefits of leaving the car in the driveway are more than just economical, Thomas said. Using alternative forms of transportation such as biking and walking can improve health and the environment.
Mayor Darwin Hindman, a regular cyclist and Thomas’ father-in-law, rode his tandem bike in the move.
“Hindman’s support has helped move the cause tremendously,” Thomas said.
During Friday’s move, drivers honked and pedestrians waved as the procession of bikes splashed through downtown in the rain.
“I’m a major advocate of people getting activity in their lives,” Hindman said. “The idea that you could move an entire office by bike demonstrates that there’s a lot you can do with them and have fun.”
He also thinks uniting the two PedNet groups is a step forward in the implementation of the city’s nonmotorized transportation plan.
Michelle Windmoeller and her two children volunteered to help with the move.
“I have two kids, 7 and 10, and I’m really trying to encourage them to live an active lifestyle,” she said. “I want to show them that it doesn’t take a car to do everything.”
Ted Curtis, Columbia’s Bike/Ped Program manager for the PedNet Project, said his office will move from the Daniel Boone Building on Broadway to the new office on Seventh Street next week on foot.