Tricyles, tandem bikes, vintage bikes with pom-pom-adorned handles – really just about every kind of bike one can imagine – were at Riverfest Saturday morning for the second attempt by Wichitans to break a world record for the longest single line of moving bicyclists.
Although the official number of participants hasn’t been tallied and likely won’t be known for a day or two, Barry Carroll, founder of Bike Walk Wichita, who organized the attempt, said this time likely fell short. He estimated that a few hundred participated.
The current record is 916 participants in Davis, Calif., in October 2010, according to the Guinness World Records website. Organized by members of the Order of Odd Fellows lodge, that effort had 1,148 people at the start, but because of the length of the route, only 916 were able to line up at once.
“Meeting other cyclists and supporting the community is a bigger deal than setting a world record,” said Dick Siemer, who rode a tandem bike with his wife, Denise.
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Siemer said Wichita is becoming more bike-friendly, but could benefit from more bike lanes. When he lived in Albuquerque he could ride 75 to 100 miles on bike lanes and paths around the city, he said.
It’s good to have people see how easy and safe it is to ride downtown at the event, so they can be more at ease riding downtown in the future, Carroll said.
And he’s encouraged by the City Council putting a focus on walking and biking with pedestrian and bicycle master plans.
“There’s been a big resurgence of bicycling worldwide and nationwide. Cities are looking at all modes of transportation and biking is viable,” Carroll said.
Beside the health benefits of biking, Carroll said some people do it to reduce their carbon emissions by driving cars less.
In Wichita, only about 1 percent of people bike commute to work, but that number is around 10 percent in places such as Portland, Ore.
He predicts biking will only continue to grow in popularity in Wichita as more people flock to the city’s center to live.
Carroll hopes to make the attempt a yearly event.
The possibilities for rain and colder weather on Saturday may have staved off participants, Carroll said.
Last year’s attempt brought in about 850 riders, and this year’s goal was 1,200. Organizers documented the attempt by registering riders and setting up a video camera along the route to record each rider.
“If we didn’t break the record,” Siemer said, “then we’ll try again next year.”