Buchanan brewery earns Bike Friendly award

Published 9:26 am Tuesday, February 2, 2021

BUCHANAN – One Buchanan business has been recognized for its dedication to promoting outdoor activities.

A newly minted Bike Friendly Business Bronze Award from The League of American Bicyclists was designated to River Saint Joe last week. The brewery, located at 15475 Walton Road, Buchanan, is host to Liz Martin’s Bike Buchanan rides in warmer months on Tuesday evenings.

In the newly announced round of Bicycle Friendly Business awards, 43 businesses from around the U.S. earned a distinction, according to a statement from Lauren Jenkins, of Bicycle Friendly Business and Bicycle Friendly America with the league.

“The 43 businesses join a movement of 1,406 Bicycle Friendly Businesses with a shared belief: bikes mean business,” Jenkins said.

The statement said 27 of the businesses who applied and were recognized were new to the program, with 16 of them renewing their Bicycle Friendly Business applications. River Saint Joe was one of just two businesses in Michigan to be a part of this round, with the other being Steelcase, Inc., a manufacturing and research business with 1,800 employees in Grand Rapids who renewed their Silver award standing.

River Saint Joe is listed as having four employees with its new Bronze standing.

Awards are Honorable Mentions, Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum levels.

The League of American Bicyclists lists Encouragement, Education, Engineering, Evaluation and Planning as attributes it assesses in the application process for bicycle-friendly businesses.

The application preview on the league of American Bicyclists website shows a 20-page document for business applicants to fill out, including asking how a business supports or promotes bicycling in the community it resides, encouraging a bicycling culture with its employees, as well as asking about efforts planned to continue creating a welcoming environment for cyclists.

Now that River Saint Joe has won its award, its ownership is hoping to continue its bicycle-friendly atmosphere in more ways in the future.

Fran Tuite, owner of Flat Water Farms and co-owner of River Saint Joe, splits her time between Chicago and Buchanan. In both locations, she finds ways to incorporate riding her bike into her routines. Bringing the bicycle-friendly element to the brewery was important to her for multiple reasons.

“It’s good for you to be active and exercise. It’s obviously very good for the environment since we’re not emitting carbon our bikes,” Tuite said. “We’re not polluting. We’re human powering, so that’s good for the planet and good for our bodies.”

Easier to pedal in the warmer months, Tuite is still hopeful for potential winter rides in Buchanan.

“We want to do everything we can to keep upping our game, and right now, I was hoping we could do something over a weekend in the winter,” Tuite said. “The roads aren’t great yet.”

Tuite hopes River Saint Joe can continue partnering with bicyclist groups, like Bike Buchanan, and encourage more people to ride their bikes. Tuite has hinted at seeking solutions to make the community more bicycle-friendly, and possibly provide rental bicycles in the future for trips into Buchanan’s downtown.

For Tuite herself, she knows bicycle riding can take a bit of commitment and adaptation. When cycling to the office in Chicago she plans what she carries and what she wears to be appropriate for both in the office and on the bicycle. She has ridden her bicycle to her home in Buchanan from the Amtrak train station on her way back in from Chicago.

“It takes effort and commitment,” Tuite said. “It’s remarkable how easy it is and joyous it is to have fresh air. It’s really freeing to know you can get somewhere on your own accord.”