Considering how busy downtown Grand Rapids becomes during ArtPrize, sometimes riding a bike can be a better way to quickly get to and around the event—not to mention the benefits on your health and your wallet! If traveling by bike is your thing, here’s a helpful guide to planning your visit.

1. Getting a bike

OK, maybe you don’t have a bike, but you still want to give the whole cycling thing a try. Not to worry! You can rent one from Grand Rapids Bicycle Co., which has a rental fleet of bikes to choose from. New this year, the company will also be offering fitness hybrids and e-Bikes during ArtPrize. An e-Bike is a pedal assist bike, which means riders get a little help pedaling from a battery operated motor. Guests of the JW Marriott or Holiday Inn Grand Rapids Downtown can also rent bikes through their respective hotels.

2. Biking to ArtPrize

Grand Rapids has been making strides toward becoming a more bike-friendly city, and set a goal in 2012 of adding 100 miles of bike lanes by 2017. The Greater Grand Rapids Bicycle Coalition has a free, downloadable map which outlines all the bike lanes, trails, and routes to help you find your way to the ArtPrize action. Depending on where you’re coming from, you can catch a bus the rest of the way, should you need a break from biking. Plus, when you pick up an ArtPrize Metro Pass for $5 at any of the seven area Meijer Park & Ride locations, or at any of the Neighborhood HUBs, you’ll be able to enjoy 10 rides on any of the Rapid’s fixed routes, and unlimited rides on the Silver Line. All buses are equipped with a bike rack.

3. Parking your bike

Speaking of places to stash your bike, Grand Rapids has hundreds of bike parking locations. In fact, Downtown Grand Rapids, Inc. has an interactive map showing where the parking spaces are on their website—just click the bike icon on the left hand side of the map to reveal hundreds of options. Additionally, ArtPrize will have bike corrals available for use at HUB/HQ, located at 41 Sheldon Blvd. SE, and outside the Clubhouse at 50 Louis. Remember to bring a lock, as these locations will not be staffed.

4. Biking at ArtPrize

Though parking is plentiful for cyclists, don’t feel obligated to just park your bike and walk around at ArtPrize. There will be plenty of outdoor artwork you can see while you pedal around. There is a neat feature on the “Find Art” section of our website that lets you view a list of entries that are outdoors. Using this filter, we’ve created the map below to show you where outdoor artwork will be during ArtPrize Eight.

Feel free to modify it to create your own route, or click the following links to take a look at two routes we’ve created for you: Route 1 | Route 2. Note that if you choose to take these routes, they do include some busier streets. We just ask that while you channel your inner-cyclist, to always stay aware and take care when biking.

5. The biking experience minus the sweat

Biking is a great way to be active while experiencing ArtPrize, but for some, biking downtown is a daunting endeavor. If this is the case for you, pedicabs may be the perfect alternative. Green Machine Pedicabs, the original pedicab company in Grand Rapids, has been traveling the streets year-round since 2008. Pedicabs offer a fun and eco-friendly way to travel through the city without the physical effort. You can inquire about a ride by contacting owner Mark Hendershot at Mark@GreenMachineGR.com or 616.560.1728. As a perk, ArtClub members get half off two-hour rides or longer with Green Machine Pedicabs this year.

6. Fixing your bike

Everything is all fun and games until you get a flat tire or your chain comes loose. Lucky for you, there are public bike repair stations around the city you can use to service your bike. Locations include: Grand Rapids Art Museum (101 Monroe Center St.), Founders Brewing Co. (235 Grandville Ave.), and the Grand Rapids Downtown Market (435 Ionia Ave.). For bigger repairs or tune-ups, you can leave it to the experts at Grand Rapids Bicycle Co., Central District Cyclery, Freewheeler Bike Shop or The Spoke Folks.

7. Bike safety

Though Grand Rapids is equipped with bike lanes and multi-use paths, if you choose to pedal your way around ArtPrize, please take extra care as downtown will be bustling. Here’s some additional tips on how to stay safe while biking during ArtPrize:

  • Whether you need to light up your bike, your body or the road ahead, be sure to get the right accessories to help you see where you’re going and to help vehicles see you.
  • Check your brakes, chain, lights, wheels and seat height to ensure you can ride safely and comfortably.
  • Protect your noggin with a helmet.
  • Travel as if you were driving a car on city roads, and bike in the direction of traffic.

8. Don’t bike at all

Maybe biking just isn’t your thing, and that’s OK! There are several different ways to navigate and explore ArtPrize, whether it's taking public transportation, walking or carpooling. Head over to the Plan Your Visit section on artprize.org to find other ways to make the most of your ArtPrize adventures.

By Lisa Levandoski on