WESTFIELD – As the nation prepares to celebrate Bike Month in May, Westfield has readied its own events for its 16th Annual Bike Week. The week begins May 11 and runs through 18.
Don Podolski of New Horizon Bikes in Westfield has coordinated the events for the week to encourage members of the community to get on a bike rather than in a car.
Programs include the annual Cyclists Breakfast, which will offer free food and beverages to those on bike. The breakfast will take place from 6 to 10 a.m. on May 13, which Podolski referred to as “bike everywhere day.”
New Horizon is set to host a free maintenance clinic on May 14 at 6:30 p.m., as well as an Orbea test ride day, as well. The company offers an “exotic” line of bicycles used by the world’s best riders, Podolski said.
It’s like getting a phone call from your local Ferrari dealer to take one out for an hour,” he said. “Even if you’re not thinking of buying one, why wouldn’t you want to try it?”
All week long, Podolski said the Bicycle Eclectic Photo Exhibit will be on display at 105 Elm St. The exhibit is made of portraits of cyclists who ride cross-country and stop at the Adventure Cycling headquarters in Missoula, MT, and the exhibit itself travels from city to city to be put on display.
In addition to activities that celebrate and encourage cycling, there will be one to help identify and shape the progress being made in making Westfield a bicycle friendly city.
Podolski said the Mayor’s Ride is a chance for this. Mayor Daniel Knapik will lead his annual 30 to 40 minute ride through the city. The ride will stop at different points to call attention to needed improvements to bicycle related infrastructure, Podolski said.
“It’s a chance to see what they’re doing, they have planned, what can be done and how it affects cyclists,” Podolski said.
Riders in the community also have a chance to compete for prizes from local businesses. Friends of the Columbia Greenway Rail Trail has sponsored the Hampden County challenge and the board is encouraging riders to get out as often as possible during peak cycling season.
The Beat the Board Challenge pits Friends of the Columbia Greenway Rail Trail board members against the public each month. Podolski said the contest is based more on frequency than miles.
“Someone who rides around the neighborhood has an equal chance to win as someone who bikes to work every day,” he said.
Through participation in Bike Week events, Podolski said not are people getting out more, they are also sending a message.
“It makes people in the Valley aware that their citizens are interested and they need to step up and increase improvements to infrastructure, whether we’re riding for fun or for necessity. There are plenty of families that are carless and rely on bikes or public transportation,” he said. “Bike Week is that opportunity for the community to become more aware … We want to encourage people, if you’re going to visit a neighbor for a cup of coffee, don’t drive over. Pedal over.”