Regional nonprofit Living Life on 2 Wheels contracted the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) to complete a feasibility study in Jefferson County, Missouri, for adding bicycle features to select existing parks and to outline a connectivity plan for schools, community amenities, and downtown districts in the cities of Festus, Crystal City, and Arnold.
“More kids are riding bicycles in our community since the pandemic started, and it is our responsibility to ensure they have safe places to ride,” said Chris Creed, co-founder of Living Life on 2 Wheels and owner of Gateway Devo Cycling. “My wife Rene and I have eight children of our own and understand why children need outdoor activities other than ball sports and swing sets to compete with technology and video games.”
Home Service Oil and Express Mart were major funders in bringing the study to life and have a vested interest in making Jefferson County a great place to live and raise a family. The feasibility study, which can be viewed in its entirety here, will be used to propose a partnership with city and park officials, highlighting the opportunity and benefits of creating a cycling culture in Jefferson County.
“To bring a project like this to life, it will take support and involvement of the entire community,” states a news release announcing the initiative.
Phase one of the proposed plan will add features to local parks in Jefferson County. These features will include skills parks, flow loops, kiddie tracks, and pump tracks. Further additions include connecting parks in the Jefferson County area to promote safe cycling between the parks, schools, and developed areas. Goals include:
- Adding cycling features in area parks
- Developing single-track trails that deliver high quality experiences to the community
- Connecting Festus and Crystal City to create a safe way to move through the cities
- Providing a racecourse venue and training facility for NICA’s Missouri Interscholastic Cycling League
- Becoming a regional mountain bike destination
So far, Home Service Oil and Express Mart have donated a total of $10,000 to Living Life on 2 Wheels. This partnership also kicks off the companies’ new giveback initiative called “em outdoors”. The businesses plan to partner each year with an organization that focuses on getting kids outside. Living Life on 2 Wheels is their first partner for the program.
“Partnering with Living Life on 2 Wheels is important to me because I am such an active and outdoorsy person,” said Zachary Mangelsdorf, president of Home Service Oil and Express Mart. “I am most excited to see kids who don’t yet know how to ride a bike learn. I would love to see their determination in learning how to fall and get back up, no matter how many times it takes to learn to ride. In my opinion, that’s a great lesson for all of life.”
IMBA states on its website, “From large metropolitan areas to small rural communities and every place in between, trails enhance quality of life, provide economic benefits, and help create community. Trails close to home are more equitable and accessible, inspiring more riders to take up the lifelong habit we love. We know all of this because we have been a part of making these things happen worldwide for 30 years, and we want to make sure it happens in more places, more rapidly. Everyone deserves a place to ride.”