Cyclists of every age, description celebrate the joy of biking

Flying high, Spencer  Bass jumps his bicycle  over his friend, Matt Olson, during a BMX show by Big-Time  Action Sports performed for the Bike  Irving event. / Photo by  John Starkey

Flying high, Spencer Bass jumps his bicycle over his friend, Matt Olson, during a BMX show by Big-Time Action Sports performed for the Bike Irving event. / Photo by
John Starkey

Approximately 500 cyclists participated in the Irving Bicycle Fest held at Lively Skate Park, May 10. Hosted by the City of Irving and the Green Advisory Board, the event featured group rides, a kids’ bicycle safety rodeo, “on-the-spot” bike checks and BMX bike riding demonstrations by Big-Time Action Sports.

“This is a celebration of cycling,” said Francesca Funk, co-founder of Bike Irving. “We’re trying to let people enjoy cycling in all its different forms. We’ve got cargo bikes and electric bikes. I even saw someone on a bike without a seat. I saw someone on a side-by-side bike – two bikes in tandem that ride side-by-side. There are all kinds of bikes.

Avid cyclist Kevin Denny, a Sergeant with Irving Police Department, led 30 bicyclists on the 30 mile group ride.

“This event is making our community a little more aware of cycling,” Denny said. “The event hits your cyclists who normally ride. It also gets information out for the kids and families. So I would say it hits as broad a spectrum of the community as it can to raise the cycling awareness.

“The education part is huge, because over the last 30 years people have gravitated towards driving their kids to school more and more. However, statistics show, it is actually safer now for kids to be biking and walking to school than was 30 or 40 years ago,” he said.

Through its Physical Education Department, Irving ISD has begun initiatives to teach students to ride bicycles and to ride them safely.

“Irving ISD also has a cycling module in the spring PE program for the elementary schools and middle schools,” Funk said. “We have a fleet of bicycles that rotates through the schools, so all the kids can learn how to cycle. That (idea) actually came from the kids. Last year, they had just the safe walking and biking to school, and they were so excited. But some of the kids didn’t know how to bicycle. The teachers realized the kids weren’t getting bikes, because the parents didn’t think there were safe places to ride, and in some cases, the parents couldn’t afford them.

“So we initiated the Earn-A-Bike program. We’ve received donations from all over the community. People are coming to this event picking out a bike. They can fix it up, and they can have their own bike. I think this partnership between the community, the schools and cyclists around the community to bring the kids into it is the most exciting thing happening today,” she said.

An advocate of ensuring kids ride safely, Sandi Cravens, Irving ISD’s Health and Physical Education Coordinator, helped give away safety helmets during the event.

“We gave away 100 helmets to adults, kids and teens in about two-and-a- half hours,” Cravens said. “There was high demand. A lot of folks didn’t have a helmet. (The helmet give away) was made possible through a grant from the Texas Medical Association. They donate half and we (Bike Irving) raised half.

“This is a great event, and we need more people to come. It’s been well attended, but I think we can get even more folks out here and expose them to biking,” she said.

About the Author

Jess Paniszczyn

Jess discovered an aptitude for writing in high school. After earning a B.A. degree in English he joined the ranks of the working class where he quickly found he did not work well in a corporate environment. He took a series of technical writing contract jobs working for such companies as AT&T, Sykes Enterprises – where he worked on IBM projects – and Lomas Mortgage. To support himself during lulls between contracts, he began working with the Dallas Morning News in operations where he worked part-time for several years, eventually migrating to the Irving Daily News in its final year of publication.
Jess was the first writer hired by The Rambler Newspapers and has been with the company since the publication of the initial Irving Rambler Newspaper. He has found a home at the newspaper that as a young writer he never thought would ever find working ‘in the real world.’