For the competitive cyclist or the dad who simply enjoys taking his children along for the ride, this year's community bike event is designed to not only promote physical activity but also to generate new interest in Licking County's multiuse trails.
The fifth annual Change Gears: Ride a Bike -- Ride for your Health event will take place Saturday, June 7.
"We really want to get people moving and get them out on the trails," said Nicole Smith, a spokesperson for the Licking County Health Department. "We want people to know the trails are out there for people to enjoy."
Last month, the Licking County Area Transportation Study committees voted to adopt a proposed multiuse trail plan that includes additional access from the Licking County Health Department to Goosepond Road, Spring Valley Park to T.J. Evans Trail and Newark-Granville Road to the Evans trail as part of the Ohio 16-Cherry Valley interchange.
LCATS is a designated metropolitan planning organization in Licking County and conducts a continuing, cooperative and comprehensive multimodal urban transportation planning process. LCATS' plan makes recommendations for trail expansion but does not prompt construction without communities' approval.
"We have a lot of paths out there that aren't connected, and we're trying to link paths together," said Matt Hill, a transportation planner with LCATS.
Three event check-in locations will be set up this year: Newark campus of Central Ohio Technical College and the Ohio State University at Newark, west end of the T.J. Evans trail (end of Jersey Street in Johnstown) and Marne United Methodist Church, on Licking Valley Road in Marne.
Check-in will begin at 8 a.m., but the staff will remain at the locations until noon. The event is free, but T-shirts will be available for a small donation. Riders may register online at phplc.org.
"We've added extra locations this year, but we're also partnering with Johnstown and the church in an effort to reach different parts of the county," Smith said. "The event is an open ride, so riders can go at their own pace and distance."
A bike-skills rodeo will be held at COTC/OSU campus and the church, where riders will be tested for straight-line control, weaving and maneuvering, and circling and changing direction. Helmets, for those who need them, will be provided (while supplies last) at no cost.
The skills test is designed for younger riders.
"Once you master those three tests, you'll have the ability to ride on the roadway," Hill said. "Of course, it's always up to the parents (if their children should bike on roadways). Even if you don't test well, it lets riders know what they have yet to practice."