Muncie Mayor Dennis Tyler said he tries to ride 100 miles a week on his bicycle. He spreads his love of cycling to Muncie by creating is more bicycle-friendly; for example, the Cardinal Greenway and bike lanes.Dennis Tyler // Photo Provided
Muncie mayor promotes cycling in community
Muncie mayor Dennis Tyler is an avid cyclist, but a few years ago he stepped away from the hobby.
Following a brief health concern in 2012, Tyler decided to get back into his old habit. Tyler was at an auction and there happened to be bikes open for bidding. Tyler was using his wife’s phone to complete the process and didn't have his glasses on hand, so he overbid by $300.
He’s fine with that, though.
“I got on that bike and just fell in love with it again,” Tyler said. “I’ve been doing it ever since.”
But he did have to sacrifice an annual tradition — riding his road bike in the Hilly Hundred in Bloomington — to attend Ball State’s Homecoming.
Tyler said he tries to ride about 100 miles each week, and it’s mostly for the health benefits. In events like the Hilly Hundred, he doesn’t focus on where he finishes.
“I try to compete with myself,” he said.
He’s also competing with other mayors. Muncie is one of only 10 Indiana cities to be named a Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists, receiving a bronze rating from the organization earlier this year.
Muncie didn’t have any bike lanes when Tyler took office in 2012, but he brought forward the “Bike Muncie” campaign in 2014. He said the idea came from his time as a state legislator from 2006 to 2012.
“As I watched older cities and newer cities that were really moving forward in the right way, with economic development opportunities, one of the key ingredients of their economic development plan was healthier lifestyles,” he said. “Getting more people more involved in their health and wellness and creating a better quality of place, which ends up being a better quality of life for everybody.
Tyler met with officials from Indiana University Health, Ball State and the city of Muncie and pitched his plan, which focused heavily on millennials and seniors. The basic strategy was to rewrite ordinances and incorporate bike lanes throughout the city. It was an instant hit with officials.
“They just took the ball and ran with it,” Tyler said. “I just got out of the way.”
Muncie now has the largest single stretch of greenway in Indiana, something that has more than just Tyler excited.
“We really appreciate what he’s done to make the city of Muncie more bicycle-friendly,” said Jason Allardt, owner of Kirk’s Bike Shop.
Ball State is also making strides to be more accommodating to cyclists.
“They’re incorporating more cycling opportunities into [the campus], and that will really help us as we go forward,” Tyler said.
Tyler’s personal favorite portion of the greenway is the southeastern area near the Prairie Creek Reservoir.
“It’s so beautiful, and particularly this time of year,” Tyler said. “Riding along the White River Greenway you see so many people out with their children and teaching them how to ride bikes, or riding together or walking together.”
The familial aspect is something Tyler cherishes about the cycling opportunities in Muncie.
“Cycling is a great form of family entertainment I think, and a great way to get out and do things together and exercise and just enjoy the moment with each other,” Tyler said. “Families don’t seem to take the time that they did when I was younger to really enjoy the time and enjoy the weekends — it seems like life is just spinning so darn quick.”
Although he may have accidentally spent too much money buying a bike, that $300 overbid is starting to look like a steal.