New U.S. 31 open Saturday - for cyclists only

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An 11 mile stretch of the new U.S. 31 between South Bend and Plymouth will open to traffic on Saturday—but there’s a catch.

Only bicycles will be allowed.

“It’ll be the experience of a lifetime I think, to have a road that size all to ourselves, we bikers. It’ll be wonderful,” said cycling enthusiast Jill DeLucia of Niles.

It’s a truly once in a lifetime opportunity. Work on much of the $200 million highway is ongoing and not ready for vehicles.

But tomorrow, for four hours of one day—and one day only, bikers will be allowed to roam free on the portion that is done.

“Right there we'll be right on the road rather than four wheels we'll have two wheels, and, and feel the open road and the wind, it should be a lot of fun,” said David Heckaman of South Bend.

It’s a chance to boldly go where no man without a hard hat has gone: A chance to see, first hand, what’s been going on out in the middle of nowhere for so long.

The idea is not totally original. Last year, Kokomo held a half marathon on the portion of U.S. 31 that was re-built there.

The Kokomo event was very well attended.

“Kokomo had 1,100 so our goal has always been to get that,” said Rob DeCleene, Executive Director of the St. Joseph County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. “As of this morning, we’re at 900 (registered), but it’s very common for bike rides, for registrants to just show up in the morning of. So we’re anticipating up to 1,500 tomorrow.”

Judy Lee of the Bike Michiana Coalition adds, “they're coming from Chicago, LaPorte County has a lot of people coming. Marshall County has a lot of people coming. We have people from Ohio, down near Indy, Carmel.”

One person who preregistered is coming all the way from Wyoming. That person is said to be a former Lakeville resident who happened to read about the event.

“I’ve asked INDOT if they could just make it a bike trail,” said Bill Lee of the Bike Michiana Coalition. “But they didn’t like that idea.”

Saturday’s event (June 14th) runs from 8:00 a.m. until noon and is open to the public and family-friendly.

For a $10 donation, anyone who can push a pedal can ride down an 11 mile stretch of the new road between Kern and U.S. 6.

All donations go toward purchasing helmets for bicycle safety classes for local 3rd grade students.

The number of classes offered depends on donations.

Participants are asked to report to the new U.S. 31 interchange at Pierce Road, or State Road 4, east of where S.R. 4 intersects with the current U.S. 31.

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