James Longhurst

Author James Longhurst will be presenting on the history of “sidepaths” during the third annual “Soup and Cycles” event in Northfield. (Submitted photo)

Originally organized as an information gathering and brainstorming opportunity for bicycling enthusiasts and community leaders in the area, the “Soup and Cycles” event returns for a third year on Jan. 30 at the First United Church of Christ in Northfield.

According to organizers, the first event was left intentionally broad on discussion topics, and the second year was an opportunity to reflect on what had been accomplished between 2014 and 2015, as well as what could be planned for in the future.

This year’s event, along with a social hour and presentations from various bicycling groups and community supporters will include a talk from writer James Longhurst, author of the book “Bike Battles.”

Longhurst’s book tackles the question of why American cities can be viewed as being ill-prepared to handle cyclists, as the popularity of bike riding continues to grow.

His talk at the event will focus on bicycle “sidepaths” that were built in the Twin Cities area in the late 1890s and were paved over in the turn of the century.

Longhurst describes the idea of sidepaths as a “long forgotten” piece of cycling’s history in the country.

“People tried to build these bicycle transportation networks,” he said. “When we talk about adding bike lanes today, quite often, we don’t remember that this sort of thing occurred already. We assume roads have always been shaped the way they are now, but we’ve reshaped them many times throughout history.”

On what he hopes attendees take away from the event, Longhurst said he hopes that people see as cities have been developed, how its shape, purpose and design have changed over a relatively short amount of time.

“I want to see how the roads have changed, and encourage people to think about experimentation in transportation with changing fuel costs and environmental concerns,” he said.

Soup and bagels at the Soup and Cycles event will be provided by Tandem Bagels of Northfield. Business owner Marty Larson has been involved with the event since its first year.

Larson said that Soup and Cycles brings together many factions of the cycling world in the region.

“We have mountain bikers, road riders, people that use cycling as a method of transportation,” he said. “It’s important to get all these groups together to know what everyone else is working on, and if there is any kind of teamwork that can happen between the groups.”

On the event this year, Larson simply hopes people come away feeling inspired.

“I want people to feel like cycling is something they can do on a year-round basis and not see it as an ‘alternative lifestyle,’ but something that is fairly normal,” he said.

Kevin Krein covers arts and entertainment, non-profits, community events and people, and matters relating to Rice County and the surrounding townships for the Northfield News and the Faribault Daily News. You can reach him at 507-645-1106, or follow him on Twitter: @NfldNewsKevin.

Kevin Krein covers arts and entertainment, non-profits, community events and people, and matters relating to Rice County and the surrounding townships for the Northfield News and the Faribault Daily News.

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