Bike Wheaton Festival stresses importance of pedal power
Biking through Wheaton's city streets, bike paths and forested trails is a different way to experience the city from the way it feels on foot, by car or zipping through on a train.
To celebrate the city's opportunities for cyclists to pedal through scenic vistas, get some exercise and run errands without turning over an engine, the city will host its fifth annual Bike Wheaton Festival from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Aug. 10, in the city hall parking lot, 303 W. Wesley St.
"The focus of the bike festival is to promote a healthy biking lifestyle in the Wheaton community," said Paula Barrington, executive director of the Downtown Wheaton Association, an organization partnering with the Wheaton Bicycle Advisory Committee to present the event.
The fest will include a bicycle decorating contest, a bike parade, exhibitions, a bike rodeo and a charity drive.
"The day will start with everyone gathering in the parking lot behind Wheaton City Hall," Barrington said.
Members of the police department and DuPage County Sheriff's Department will lead the parade, with the help of the Wheaton Municipal Band.
Barrington said the procession will head north on Wheaton Avenue, wheel through a residential neighborhood, then circle back to the starting point.
"We encourage people to wear helmets in the parade," she said. "It's a short parade. There are about 150 participants. The parade is wrapped up in about 20 minutes. After the parade, at 10:30 a.m. in the parking lot, we will have a decorate-your-bike contest."
She said entries will be divided by age groups, with the winning entrants being awarded gift certificates.
The contest brings out the creative side of cyclists, she said. Past contests featured bicycles decorated as dinosaurs and familiar characters. One year, a cyclist decorated a bike to resemble the "mayhem" character from a series of TV insurance company commercials.
"We had one family who did an 'Angry Birds' motif on their bikes," she said. "People have a lot of fun with that."
A DJ will provide a musical backdrop, while information booths manned by police, medical professionals and cycling experts will offer details on how to live a healthier lifestyle and how to incorporate bicycling into everyday life.
"We want to encourage people to think about biking as opposed to always driving," Barrington said.
The bicycle rodeo is an educational tool the police present for young cyclists.
"It's a little course kids can ride their bikes through. It teaches these kids bike safety," she said.
Representatives from Working Bikes, a Chicago nonprofit group that brings donated bicycles to people worldwide, will be at the festival.
"They will be collecting donated bikes to use in their programs," said Barrington. "Last year when they left, their truck was full of bikes."
Barrington said the Bike Wheaton Festival has no admission fee and no registration is required.
"It's open to the public. Everything is free. You just show up," she said.