1 of 3
Silver ChainThe official silver chain. Bling to brag about!
2 of 3
Official Opening of Mississippi MillsOfficial opening bike ride at Mississippi Mills' Bike Month 2010
3 of 3
Backwards Bike RaceThree...two...one...go! It's a backwards bike race.
What does bike advocacy look like in a small town of under 12,000? Jeff Mills of the town of Mississippi Mills couldn't sleep the whole night after he first read Momentum Magazine. "I saw all these amazing things happening in cities like Portland, Montreal and Toronto," remembers Mills. "And then I started thinking about what we could do in Mississippi Mills, who I could talk to and how we'd celebrate in our own, small town way." By the next morning Mississippi Mills' Bike Month was born.
Jeff Mills describes his town's Bike Month as a 'potluck approach' to organizing. "We invite everyone to participate, but you choose what goodies you bring to the table, what you'll share with the other guests," says Mills.
June 2011 marks year three of the Mississippi Mills Bike Month. Residents and visitors can look forward to all kinds of exciting events during the month including a bike parade and rodeo, bicycle art tours of local galleries, birding bike tours of the countryside, bike safety presentations, an opening night street party and bike polo.
Because Mississippi Mills is a small town, Jeff Mills says that everyone gets involved in fun and surprising ways. Local shops created bike-themed window displays and several teachers worked cycling into their lesson plans during the celebration.
"We were determined to become involved in Bicycle Month," says Mary Ann McKenna. "Cycling can be easily integrated into curriculum through art, reading, writing, geography, health safety and more."
The Silver Chain Challenge is a friendly competition to see which town or hamlet in Lanark County is the most cycling-spirited community. It’s about riding your bike for fun or transportation, and registering your kilometres for the month of June. And it's about expanding Bike Month beyond Mississippi Mills to the surrounding communities.
If you ride a bike and you live in Lanark County, you can participate. Every kilometre registered will help your community win the 2011 Silver Chain. The challenge is open to all ages, with bonus points to helmet wearers, riders under 16 and over 65, and riders who choose their bikes over their cars. Register your name and community on the Mississippi Mills Bicycle Month website. From June 1 to June 30, return to the website to log your kilometres.
At the end of June, the community with the most points will be awarded the Silver Chain, and bragging rights as the most cycling-spirited community in Lanark County for 2011.
Mississippi Mills won the title in 2010 with 50 registered riders cycling 12,328 kms. Mayor John Levi is confident that Mississippi Mills residents will rise to the challenge again. “We look forward to the challenge of all others, but our motto is “WE WILL NOT BE DEFEATED.”
Good luck to all Silver Chain competitors and nice work encouraging so many people to hop on their bikes, Mississippi Mills.
How does your small town celebrate cycling? We'd love to hear from you. Feel free to share your stories here on the blog or email me, Kathleen Wilker at: familiesonbikes [at] momentumplanet DOT com.