Biking Shorts, October 15, 2012
By Barbara Schmid
On a Thursday, as rush hour traffic begins to build in the residential corridor on Cascade Road between Spaulding and 28th Street, so do the number of bicyclists.
Four cyclists ride down the bike path within a half hour. A man and woman pedal hard, moving east on Cascade's narrow road shoulder. Then, from around a corner, a man on a bike with balloon-sized tires appears.
It’s John Muenzenmeyer, who lives in the area. When asked about his bike, a 616 Bicycle Fabrication “fat bike,” he says it’s all he rides anymore. He claims it’s easy to ride on any surface.
“Riding a fat bike is so much more fun,” Muenzenmeyer said. “You find a cadence you like and when you get to gravel roads, the beach, snow and sandy spots, it’s easy to get right through it.”
He’s more than a little biased. Muenzenmeyer is a co-owner of 616 Fabrication with Aaron Joppe and Robert Gaddis. The company’s fat bikes turned heads last winter because of their super big tires and ability to navigate easily through snow.
The fat tire bike suits Muenzenmeyer because he prefers riding on non-motorized trails, through parking lots and even single track trails to avoid traffic. The reason?
“I’m worried about people texting while driving,” he said.
Muenzenmeyer’s goal is to commute one day a week from his home at Spaulding and Cascade to 616 Fabrication on Egypt Valley Road north of Cannonsburg Road. In reality, life and work often get in the way of a good plan. When that’s the case, he hops on his bike for a training ride after work instead.
Finding convenient and safe biking routes is a challenge, he said.
“The biggest thing hurting this area is getting over the bridges at Fulton and Knapp,” he said during a pause in his two-hour ride. “Right now, I can’t get anywhere. Even on Burton. It would be so much easier to commute to East Grand Rapids or downtown if they continued this path down Burton. Burton is so narrow, you have to race for an opening in traffic to get safely over the peak of the overpass. Everything else is awesome.”
One of Muenzemeyer’s three wishes will be fulfilled by next spring. A 14-foot-wide separated pedestrian/bikeway on the north side of the new bridge on Fulton over the Grand River is expected to be completed by then. The adjacent roadway will have four, 12-foot travel lanes and a 4 1/2-foot striped shoulder on each side. It will be finished this fall, possibly by October 23, according to Jim Ferro, an Ada Township planner.