Wednesday, May 2, 2012

WR Bike Coalition keeps focus on the future

Public meeting tonight in Hailey


By JEFF CORDES
Express Staff Writer

Passionate about bicycle riding, whether it's mountain bike or road? Want to make sure bicycling has its place at the table when decisions are made about public policy?

If that's so, you'll want to check out the four-year-old Wood River Bike Coalition and perhaps attend its 2012 spring meeting today, Wednesday, May 2 from 6-8 p.m. at the Community Campus in Hailey.

Officials from the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service's Ketchum Ranger District are due to attend today's meeting to update bike advocates about upcoming trail projects. Bike Coalition officials will also talk about future plans and updates for 2012 and the years ahead.

Ketchum's Greg Martin, director/founder of the Bike Coalition, is passionate about getting people on bikes. "I love bikes, all kinds," he said.

Martin, 40, formed the non-motorized transportation and recreation advocacy group in 2008 to work with land managers, policy makers and developers to improve and enhance trail networks in the area.

It's more than just bikes, he said. "It's about trails, safe routes to school and pedestrians. It's about getting around and playing on your bike and your feet," said Martin, the 2008-09 men's champion of the 24-Hour Solo Mountain Bike competition who first settled in Ketchum back in 1997.

Martin, who works as trails coordinator for the Blaine County Recreation District, said the coalition "is getting some achievements under its belt." He is eager to welcome new members and organizers into the group to push its agenda and increase outreach.

"Our trail system is an economic driver for the valley in summer," said Martin. "It's critical to have the opportunities to improve upon it."

Since 2008, he said the Wood River Bike Coalition has:

- Achieved "bike friendly status" with the League of American Cyclists; become a chapter of the International Mountain Bike Association; and earned non-profit status as a 501(c)3 organization;

- Supported the development of pump tracks in Ketchum and Hailey, and a flow trail out Adams Gulchl;

( Built a Web site, woodriverbike.org, that is designed to encourage human-powered transportation and recreation with content like trail updates and announcements, and information about local events.

In early April, Martin and his bike racing partner Rebecca Rusch undertook a five-day, 535-mile bike tour with national cyclocross champion Tim Johnson's "Ride on Washington" event designed to push for pro-bicycle legislation—and to protest funding cuts for non-motorized transportation.

During that event, Martin learned about an Oregon-based trails group that bought a piece of specialized trail building equipment and collaborated with public agencies on its use. Martin said the Wood River Bike Coalition has applied for a grant to buy a similar piece of equipment for local use.

If the coalition gets the federal grant through the Recreational Trails Program, Martin said he plans to stage a local fundraiser July 5 at Elkhorn during the national mountain bike competition in Sun Valley to raise matching funds.

Other 2012 Bike Coalition initiatives include: Formalizing trail development partnerships with public agencies; completing agreed-upon trail projects; partnering on an Economic Impact Study of local trail systems and pathways; and increasing outreach.

Also:

- The coalition's Adams Gulch trail work days are set for Thursday, May 10 and Monday, May 14, from 5-8 p.m.

- Membership dues are $30 individuals and $50 family through woodriverbike.org.




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