Each year, thousands of people hit the nearly 28 miles of bike trails in Sioux Falls. It's one of the most popular ways for people to get exercise in the warmer months, and this year, it will likely be even more popular.
"This should be a really good year for the bike trail," Tory Miedema said.
In the last few years, even during winter, the City of Sioux Falls has rerouted runners, bikers and rollerbladers off the trail because of construction on the City's levee system. Others improvements and construction projects have been handled by the Public Works Department.
"They should be out of the way and it should be a pretty smooth summer," Miedema said.
But that doesn't mean all of the construction projects are over.
"The one detour that we'll have is the Russell Street project. Detour was in place last year and will continue to be throughout the summer," Miedema said.
Chris Parsley, President of Falls Area Bicyclists, says he doesn't mind the construction on Russell Street because he knows what's ahead for cyclists.
"The one over by Russell, we're really excited because there will be bike lanes and a side path and all kinds of stuff for people who are not in a car on Russell. We don't mind taking those little detours like that because there are great things coming in the future for cyclists to be on the road instead of shoved off onto a bike path somewhere," Parsley said.
As for keeping cyclists and runners abreast of construction projects, Parsley says the City does a good job of getting the word out.
"The City has been really, really good about getting that information out. There's email, Facebook, everything else. We know where the detours are going to happen and we have a pretty good idea of what the detours are going to be," Parsley said.
The future is bright for the bike trail, according to Miedema, who expects lots of changes in the near future.
"Over towards Lien Park, by Cliff Ave and the Big Sioux River, we'll be extending the bike trail another half mile. It's a really beautiful area people really haven't seen. We'll be extending the bike trail out there getting it from Lien Park to I-229. That trail should eventually get out to Great Bear and further on," Miedema said.
That project is expected to be complete by the end of the year. Another big project this summer will add more access points throughout the southwestern part of the bike trial, including near Sertoma Park.
"These are actually trails that have been in place, but they are just gravel so they will be nice and smooth and good riding and good access to the trail at all times," Miedema said.
Parsley is also making it his mission to get the rest of the city bike friendly. He says Sioux Falls didn't score well in a recent report from the League of American Bike Cyclist.
"In that report there is not a single business in Sioux Falls that is listed as a bike-friendly business, not one, so we're going to work really hard to change that and get our facilities up to snuff in town. When they come back around again in a couple of years, we want to move up to the next level, if not the next, maybe even beyond that," Parsley said.
Making Sioux Falls a premiere biking community. After the long winter, Parsley hopes this year everyone dusts off their equipment and rides.
"I think everybody should get on a bike and ride once in their life. It doesn't matter how much you spent on a bike, it doesn't matter what your bike is made of, it doesn't matter what clothes you're wearing. Just put on a helmet, get on your bike and ride. That's all there is to it," Parsley said.
For more information on the bike trails, visit siouxfalls.org/parks.aspx.