By Belinda M. Paschal
PIQUA — The John Howard quote, “The bicycle is a curious vehicle. Its passenger is its engine,” was in keeping with ministers Joe and Kazy Hinds’ belief in “people power” as part of the Blessing of the Bikes ceremony that took place at noon Friday at the gazebo in downtown Piqua.
Joe Hinds said the ceremony was a good time to think about “what it means to power ourselves” and “what it means to be in this wonderful community and God’s creation.” He also advocated being mindful of those who “power” themselves not only on bicycles but via walking, be it using their feet, canes or wheelchairs.
Some 20 to 30 people attended the Blessing of the Bikes, which included the reading of quotes about bicycles, as well as Scripture relating to wheels and God’s universal glory, plus a moment of silence for those who have lost their lives while bike-riding. Among those the crowd paid tribute to was Joseph Giampapa of Dublin, who was killed March 22 while riding in the 6000 block of Troy-Sidney Road, just north of the East Loy Road intersection outside Piqua.
“One of the things that really caught my attention about doing this event was the fact that we recently had someone tragically die in a bike accident,” Kazy Hinds said.
The Hindses were inspired to do a Blessing of the Bikes after listening to an NPR program about the Rev. Canon Julia Whitworth, who recently led the 16th Annual Blessing of the Bikes at Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in New York City.
“It intrigued me as she talked about how they’re encouraging more people in New York City to ride their bikes and I thought about what it would be like to do this sort of thing in Piqua,” Kazy Hinds said.
Chris Schmiesing, city planner for the city of Piqua and a member of the committee that helped to organize the Blessing of the Bikes, biked to the ceremony and said he plans to ride to work next week as well. “I’m obligated to bike to work, since I’m kind of a lightning rod for the event,” he said.
David Fries of Piqua is retired, but said he often rode his bike to work in the past. “I worked in Sidney and would ride to Lockington, then get a ride to work from there,” he recalled. “I just love the serenity of bike riding. It allows you to see things you don’t usually get to see. On the bike path, you’ll see wild animals that you don’t see every day.”
The ceremony helped to kick off Piqua Bike to Work Week, which begins Monday, May 12 and runs through Friday, May 16. Bike To Work Week is friendly competition designed to promote bicycling as a healthy and environmentally friendly transportation alternative.
To register to participate, visit http://www.piquaoh.org/feature_active_living_in_piqua.htm, and record the bicycle miles you travel during the week of the event, and enter your participation data online and be recognized for your efforts. The Bike To Work Week event committee will tally the final numbers and provide each participating person with a snapshot of the health and environmental benefits produced by their efforts. Participating individuals, students, families, businesses, and institutions will be publicly recognized and receive a certificate of participation.
The individual and student, and small and large business/institution/family with the greatest level of participation will receive the coveted traveling trophy to display/keep until next year, when they will have to reclaim the trophy or relinquish it to the new winner.