Community uses bikes to raise awareness for complete streets

Hannah Finnerty and Hannah Finnerty

Every Thursday at 5:15 p.m., the streets of Bowling Green are congested with traffic. 

Community members are commuting home after a day at work. Some are headed downtown to eat dinner. Students who live off campus are wrapping up their classes for the day and heading back to their apartments.

Accompanying this mass of automobiles during rush hour on Thursdays is an organized pack of bicycles pedaling through the busy streets.

These cyclists are associated with Bike 4 A Better BG!, a community organization designed to promote bicycling and raise awareness of cyclists.

The Bike 4 A Better BG! Facebook page states, “The more people that ride their bikes, the more reasons we can give the City to seriously consider bike lanes and bike-focused legislation-including fully complete streets.”

Stephen Langendorfer, chair of Bowling Green’s Bicycle Safety Commission, said the complete streets program is a national program that can be adopted by cities and municipalities that creates a safe commuting environment for everyone, regardless of whether people are walking, cycling, riding mass transit or driving their own vehicle.

Although a pack of cyclists hitting the streets around rush hour might be an inconvenience for drivers, the time is perfect for Bike 4 A Better BG! to spread its message to as many community members as possible. 

In response, community has listened and is reciprocating.

Bowling Green City Council in conjunction with the City’s Bicycle Safety Commission is working on revamping the City’s transportation plan from 2007. Although this plan included a bike-friendly component, the revisions taking place now should see several undetermined streets throughout the city become complete streets, Langendorfer said.

Lily Murnen, a senior environmental science major and one of the creators of Bike 4 A Better BG!,  said the group has been a strong advocate for the creation of complete streets. 

Through the group’s vocalization and demonstration of the need for complete streets, social pressure coming from students and faculty on campus and community members encouraged the council to dust off the plans from 2007 and make a conscious effort to take action, Murnen said.

The group is a backbone, a support system for those who want to speak up about cyclist safety and complete streets. 

“People saw that there were other people who rode their bikes in the group, and they felt that they could work together to push biking as an important issue. That helped in getting citizens to take action,” Murnen said. 

Not only do complete streets create safe roadways for any mode of transportation, but Murnen also accredited the complete streets movement with creating community cohesion which is another mission of Bikes 4 A Better BG!.

The organization was an unexpected product of environmental clubs on campus planning events for Earth Month this past April. 

“We were trying to find an event that could be community and campus… to bring people together and promote biking,” Murnen said.

The push for complete streets has served as a bridge between the Bowling Green community and the University, Murnen said. With bicycling serving as common ground among students, faculty and community members, Bike 4 A Better BG! is closing the gap between either side of the railroad tracks.

The weekly community bike rides take place on Thursdays at 5:15 pm. Riders take off from the BGSU Administration Building fountain. 

You can check out the Bike 4 A Better BG! Facebook page to get involved with the organization and keep up to date on the city’s progress toward complete streets.