Josh Leffingwell started biking while in college as a way to get around, but he soon became interested in bike advocacy and the environmental benefits of cycling — he even started a bike advocacy clothing line after college, Bike Friendly, with business partner Tyler Doornbos.
“We’ve been advocating for active transportation in Grand Rapids since then, and we’ve come a long way — when we first started there was 0.4 miles of bike lanes and now we are over 100 miles,” Leffingwell said.
Today, Leffingwell is a partner at Well Design Studio, and most days he commutes to work via his 2012 Linus 3-speed Roadster. “It’s pretty basic, but that’s really all you need in Grand Rapids,” he said. Leffingwell said he tends to bike short distances and often “snags a ride on The Rapid and tosses the bike on the front,” when he is going anywhere around town that involves a lengthy hill.
Leffingwell shared some of his favorite stops as he bikes around GR.
If you’re out and about and have any issues with your bike, there are great bike shops in all corners of the city.
East Side — and East GR
For brunch, Leffingwell sets out from his West Side home and makes a stop at El Granjero. “Chilaquiles for me, huevos rancheros for my wife, Alissa. Some of the best Mexican breakfast in the city, and some of the nicest people running the restaurant (shout out to Paola and Beto).” While you won’t find any bike racks here, Leffingwell said there are plenty of spots to lock up your bike.
Another favorite weekend brunch spot is SpeakEZ Lounge.
“If I’m hitting trails around Grand Rapids, I’m definitely going to stick near the zoo, where they have some of the region’s best trails. Millennium Park’s trails are truly a gem for the region. These trails connect you to new parks (you can get over to some of the Black Hills parks like Clemente Park and Indian Mounds Park) and other trail networks like Kent Trails to take you to Wyoming and all the way to Byron Center,” he said.
Leffingwell follows up a trail ride with “a drink and some grub.” He suggests City Built Brewing Co. “There are few more bike-friendly businesses, and they have a great menu of both beers and food. Keep in mind you’re going to be biking all day so don’t get drawn into the heavy beers or have too many … you’ve got to stay sober enough to ride — and fit enough to make it up any of the hills.”