In an effort to encourage alternative modes of transportation and promote the region’s growing sustainable agriculture industry, the River Valley Regional Commission (RVRC) partnered with Café Campesino, Georgia Organics, and the nonprofit bicycle advocacy organization, Sumter Cycling, to create a unique two-day bicycle adventure through the New River countryside. Over the course of the event, 75 bicycle and food enthusiasts made their way from farm to farm, stopping for tours and samples as they covered over 100 miles of roadway.
The Tour de Farm route was developed by RVRC staff, which used their GIS capabilities and existing relationships with local community leaders to conduct a feasibility study and establish a route that was safe, educational, and enjoyable for the participants. The route’s planners took advantage of nearly 40 miles of newly designated bike routes in Sumter County and made sure to include stops that highlighted local efforts to restore old, historic structures into tourist destinations that support the rural economy.
In addition to mapping the route, RVRC was also in charge of providing the on-site safety course that was required of all participants. This presented an opportunity for staff to educate individuals on everything from proper helmet fittings to proper etiquette for sharing the road.
In addition to the many other benefits of Tour de Farm, it also served as a fundraiser for Georgia Organics. The event’s total cost came in at $3,800, but thanks to partnerships with local and state organizations, donations from cycling advocacy groups, and in-kind services by RVRC staff, the cost was reduced to $2,400.
Tour de Farm was awarded a 2014 Excellence in Regional Transportation Award. View descriptions of other award winning projects here. This is the RVRC’s third award for bicycle planning. The organization was previously recognized for their Prison to Peanuts Adventure and More Pedal-Less Metal: Urban Bicycling Initiative.