Friday evening in Winona Lake, members of the Warsaw and Winona Lake communities gathered at the 10th annual Fat and Skinny Tire Festival to celebrate the kick off of events. But the kick off of the festival was not the only thing worth celebrating.
After years of work and dedication, members of the communities were able to see all of their efforts come to fruition with the naming of Warsaw and Winona Lake as a bronze level Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclist.
The naming of a community as a bicycle friendly location is a feat not easily garnered. According to the League of American Bicyclist, Indiana ranks 42nd in the nation for bicycle safety and features only eight communities deemed to be bicycle friendly.
The efforts to achieve this title was a collaboration of many like-minded, bicycle loving individuals in the area. Among those credited for the development of the Warsaw and Winona Lake newly granted status was Warsaw Park Activities Director Staci Young, Warsaw Assistant City Planner Tim Dombrosky, Warsaw Mayor Joe Thallemer, and Fred Helfrich and Nancy Tibbet, members of the Kosciusko County Velo Cycling Club, among others.
Though the naming of a bicycle friendly community denotes that Warsaw and Winona Lake have made significant strides in creating a safe and fun environment for bicyclists, the bronze level award does allow the community additional levels of bicycle safety to strive for.
Thallemer stated, “On behalf of the city of Warsaw we are extremely proud of this bicycle friendly community status. This was something I really wanted to do and there was this subterranean culture out there just waiting to pop and they popped. Many communities get started and get really excited about this and maybe even get a little ahead of themselves sometimes. The thing about being a bicycle friendly community is that we understand how important it is to stress safety. We want everyone to have a great time, to be safe, and we want them to do that on two wheels, four wheels or two legs – it doesn’t matter. It has been said but we have a whole lot of work to do.”
For more information on this year’s Fat and Skinny Tire Festival visit http://www.fatandskinnytirefest.com/ten/