GGRBC riders enjoying a break on Climate Ride Midwest. Photo courtesy of Justine Burdette

GGRBC riders enjoying a break on Climate Ride Midwest
Photo courtesy of Justine Burdette

From its recent placement on the top 50 cities bike-friendly cities by Bicycling magazine to becoming part of a national environmental fundraising effort, Grand Rapids is adding green to its growing list of attributes. And it's easy for you to take part as well!

The non-profit group Climate Ride organizes charitable events focused on environmental causes around the United States. This summer, 115 riders participated in the inaugural Climate Ride Midwest. The four-day, 300-mile ride from Grand Rapids to Chicago September 6-9 raised over $400,000 dollars for leading environmental and bicycle advocacy organizations.

Experience Grand Rapids was proud to sponsor teams from the West Michigan Environmental Action Committee (WMEAC) and the Greater Grand Rapids BicycleCoalition (GGRBC) to take part in the event.

Climate Ride Midwest riders taking a break along the lakeshore. Photo courtesy of Justine Burdette

Climate Ride Midwest riders taking a break along the lakeshore
Photo courtesy of Justine Burdette

Riding through the beach towns of Grand Haven, Holland, Saugatuck, South Haven, Benton Harbor and St. Joseph was a time to remember, said Justine Burdette, one of the seven members who made up the GGRBC team. The local riders were proud of our beautiful countryside and lakeshore and enjoyed sharing it with those who had never seen the eastern shores of Lake Michigan.

It was certainly a unique fundraiser and Grand Rapids was praised for bringing out so many riders to the event, said Anne Marie Heartl, WMEAC team member.

"I had a fabulous experience, from raising money for an organization that I believe in, to arriving in Chicago with over 100 other riders who care about climate change," said Amanda Bruehl, GGRBC team member. "It felt great to roll into Chicago knowing what I had accomplished in fundraising, advocating, and biking 300 miles."

Climate Ride Midwest riders at their final destination- Chicago! Photo courtesy of Amanda Bruehl

Climate Ride Midwest riders at their final destination-Chicago!
Photo courtesy of Amanda Bruehl

Look for Climate Ride Midwest 2015 dates in the upcoming months.

Many organizations around West Michigan are becoming certified "Bicycle Friendly Businesses" through the League of American Bicyclists to encourage rolling into Grand Rapids on eco-friendly bicycles instead of driving. To earn their certification, businesses must meet certain requirements including providing on-site showers and incentives to bike to work to name a few.

A growing number of downtown businesses are encouraging their customers to travel on two wheels as well.

Bike corral in front of Bartertown Diner.  Photo courtesy of cyclesafe.com

Bike corral in front of Bartertown Diner.
Photo courtesy of cyclesafe.com

The Pyramid Scheme, Bartertown Diner, Cult Pizza, Madcap Coffee, and Grand Rapids Brewing Company all replaced a parking space with bike corrals that hold up to 14 bikes, Communications Director at the WMEAC Joshua Leffingwell, said. "These businesses realize the value of cyclists as customers, and the customers appreciate an easy place to park."

Visiting Grand Rapids and forgot to bring your bike? Both JW Marriott Hotel and Holiday Inn Grand Rapids Downtown offer bike rentals for registered guests. Or head to Central District Cyclery to rent two wheels to explore the area.

Green Drinks meet-up at Brewery Vivant in Grand Rapids, MI
A recent WMEAC Green Drinks at Brewery Vivant Photo courtesy of WMEAC

If you are interested in learning more and meeting others interested in environmental causes in GR, stop in to one of WMEACs monthly Green Drinks for spirited sustainable conversations.

"WMEAC is an environmental action council," Leffingwell said. "Which means our work cannot be completed without the action of our members and constituents."

So grab your helmet, check your tires and get involved in the green scene. We guarantee youll have some fun while doing some good.