The City of Columbus proudly commemorates four miles of the Alum Creek Trail as the Major Taylor Bikeway. Trail dedication renaming and unveiling of a commemorative plaque to Major Taylor will take place on Friday, September 3rd at 3PM.
This trail section is dedicated to the first Africa-American to become an international sports star and one of the most famous cyclists in American history.
Before the advent of football and basketball only baseball equaled cycling’s popularity with America’s citizens. Major Taylor [1878-1932] won his first professional race in New York City’s Madison Square Garden and the 1899 world track cycling championship after setting numerous world records and overcoming racial discrimination. He went on to win numerous races in the US before being forced by segregation and Jim Crow laws to compete successfully in Europe and Australia.
During the peak of his career he earned over $25,000 a week at a time when the average American was making less than $1000 annually. He retired at age 32 but by the time of his death had lost everything to bad investments, persistent illness, and the stock market crash. He died at age 53 in 1932, a pauper in the charity ward of Chicago’s Cook County Hospital and buried in an unmarked grave.
In 1948 a group of former pro bike racers, with money donated by the Schwinn Bicycle Co. organized a relocation of Taylor’s remains to a prominent part of Mt Glenwood Cemetery near Chicago. A monument to his memory stands in his former hometown of Worcester, MA and Indianapolis, IN named the city’s bicycle track after Taylor. Now Columbus Ohio joins cities honoring the memory of this pioneering African-American athlete by naming a section of its bike trail in Major Taylor’s honor.
Columbus Mayor and avid cyclist Michael Coleman, Director of Recreations and Parks Alan McKnight and George Harper president of The Columbus Major Taylor Cycling Club, the nation’s oldest cycling organization named in honor of Taylor will be in attendance. A ribbon cutting and opening ride by local cyclists will follow the renaming and unveiling ceremonies.
“I advise all youths aspiring to athletic fame or a professional career to practice clean living, fair play, and good sportsmanship.” -Major Taylor
Wolfe Park, E. Broad St & Park Dr: Alum Creek Trail head at west end of bridge crossing Alum Creek. [Accessible by car from E. Broad St & Franklin Park W to Franklin Park S parking lot.]