Bike 5 Cities attracts nearly 500 participants in rides across 5 cities

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In all, nearly 500 people participated in one or more of the stops on the colorful flotilla of bicycles that caravanned across five local communities in the inaugural Bike 5 Cities events.  Ranging in age from 7 to 70’s, more than 200 people, rode the 28-mile route that traversed trails and bike-friendly roads through Orlando, Winter Park, Casselberry, Maitland and the town of Eatonville.  Each of those cities also hosted smaller (by comparison) rides and offered family-friendly activities.

Many riders remarked that they had never ridden many of the trails, short-cuts or bike-friendly roads that connect one city to another.  One participant, Joey Robison, a regular cyclist, said,  “This was eye-opening! Thank you to all that planed and help put this community BICYCLE FIVE CITY RIDE together. I  can’t wait till next year!!!!”  We can’t either.

The partnership between Healthy Central Florida and Bike/Walk Central Florida and underwritten by the Winter Park Health Foundation began with the desire to create a bike-friendly regional map.  The goal was to introduce folks to bike trails and roads with lower traffic volumes or slower speeds and offer a free, guided ride.  Within a week 200 riders had signed up and the registration was capped.  “We’re pretty sure we could have had four or five hundred riders if we had let it go,” said Lisa Portelli, Program Director at the Winter Park Health Foundation. “It already has us thinking about ways to expand it next year.”

Lisa, who is an avid cyclist and regular bike commuter, was instrumental in planning the route and organizing the ride.  (Click here to see a video of Lisa talking about the ride.)

We’re grateful to Lisa and Bike Walk Central Florida, and to our friends and hosts at each of the cities. All of them organized and hosted great rides and kid-friendly activities.  

In Eatonville, the town honored a young boy, Camari Dennison, who was killed when riding without his helmet.  Camari’s mother, offered powerful testimony to the hundreds gathered.  Tearfully, she said, “If my son had been wearing a helmet, he would be alive today.  I want you to wear your helmet.”

The town of Eatonville handed out more than 100 free helmets and held fittings and a bike rodeo.  They also gave away more than a dozen free bikes. In Maitland, the fire and police departments, along with jugglers, stilt walkers and volunteers also gave away helmets and attracted more than 200 children and adults.  They also led a family-friendly ride through Maitland.

For all the participants, it showed that biking in our communities is a fun way to get healthy and spend family time.  To city officials, it showed that yes, we have many safe routes, but we still have quite a ways to go to fill in the gaps — so that all children and adults can ride in their neighorhoods, to schools or to a park – safely.  That’s our vision.   If that’s your vision too, let your elected and city or county leaders know that being able to bike – and walk safely matters to you!