Fort Wayne Trails is a nonprofit organization that promotes a healthy community by providing a network of trails to connect people with each other and the places they want to go. The trails give individuals a place where they can bike, walk, or run safely throughout our community. The organization also emphasizes the importance of the trail system as a way to actively transport from one place to another without the use of a car. Fort Wayne Trails advocates, plans, builds, and maintains this trail system that connects Fort Wayne with other parts of Allen County.
I had the opportunity to volunteer with Fort Wayne Trails during the Taste of the Arts festival in downtown Fort Wayne. They have partnered with the City of Fort Wayne to provide a free bike valet service. Offering this bike valet service encourages festival attendees to ride their bikes to the festival in place of driving a car. It saves on the cost of parking in addition to encouraging the use of the trails to get downtown. When they arrive at the festival, they can safely stow their bikes with the valet and retrieve them when they are ready to leave. It is a great service and it helps Fort Wayne Trails further their mission to make bicycles a mode of transportation in addition to a leisure activity.
I arrived for my shift and was given the quick rundown of my responsibilities. It was a beautiful afternoon and the festival atmosphere was buzzing. I had the opportunity to work with a gentleman who spends his career working with those with disabilities. He brought a few of his clients to help volunteer as valets. We had many people who took advantage of the service and allowed us to handle their bikes. I volunteered for approximately two hours and we stayed busy the entire time. People would check their bike with us and we would talk with the them about the trails. So many people believed that the trails are a “true treasure” for Fort Wayne. I would have to agree. Although I do not use them often (and definitely not as much as I should), the trails are great for those who do. It was obvious how special the trails are by listening to the excitement in the voices of those who had ridden their bikes downtown. I can remember one lady who was very excited to hear that they were hoping to expand the trails to the north. She wants to ride her bike to work, but currently there is not a safe way to do it. My time as a bike valet went very fast. I am happy to say that I did not damage or lose anyone’s bike while on duty.
I learned a lot about Fort Wayne Trails and the work that they do to offer the trails. They are an organization that relies solely on the support of donors, volunteers, and people who want to see the trails grow. It was obvious to me that these trails would not exist without the energy and passion of the people who support the mission. Unfortunately, I did not get to meet anyone from the organization during my volunteer experience. I would encourage everyone to visit www.fwtrails.org and learn more about the trails, the organization, and upcoming projects. If you are a walker, a runner, or a biker, I would advise you to check out the trails. You will find them to be happy trails! Good riding!