While Pastor Alan Kimber is a cycling enthusiast, he is still upset that the upcoming Lodi Cycle Fest could make it harder for his parishioners to get to First United Methodist church's service at 9:30 a.m.
"Firstly, I would like the route to be changed. Secondly, and more importantly, I wish there had been consultation," Kimber said. "This is a total disregard for the two big faith communities that meet Downtown at that time."
He said members of his church and members of St. Anne's Catholic Church were never informed about the bike race.
St. Anne's clergy did not return calls for comment on Tuesday afternoon.
The races start at 8 a.m., and the route goes west on Oak Street and then north on Church Street past Oak Street, which is the corner where Kimber's church is located.
The churches depend on public parking lots, which Kimber is worried will be filled because of the race.
He is also frustrated the city is adding another event on a Sunday during the church's services, because the Lodi Street Faire already makes Downtown congested twice a year.
Lodi Cycle Fest at a glanceWhat: The first race of its kind held in Lodi. The Criterium-style race will have nine different categories for men and women ranging from 40 to 70 minutes in length. It will feature a one-mile loop circuit format and is expected to draw 500 professional and amateur racers, as well as 2,000 spectators, from all over Northern California.
When: From 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on July 12.
Where: Downtown Lodi.
Cost: For cyclists - $27-$35 and there will be a free race for kids ages 4-12. Free for spectators.
Prizes: Range from $200-$2,500.
Want to volunteer or be a sponsor? Contact Damian Gonzalez at 810-6654 or email@example.com and Josh Geisler at 810-3513 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information or to register, visit www.deltavelo.com.
Lodi City Councilwoman JoAnne Mounce, who is a member of First United Methodist Church, said she has no issues with the bike race itself, but would like to see the route changed.
She is most frustrated by the fact that no one appears to have alerted the churches to the race route or included them in the planning.
"The most alarming part for me as a council member is, here I have potentially 3,000 people who have concerns with this event and were never informed," she said.
Kimber would like to see the route change to avoid the intersection of Oak and Church streets.
The city is in the final planning stages before approving the permit for the event, so while it is not impossible to change, it would be difficult, said Jim Rodems, interim director of Parks and Recreation.
He said he does not think the churches will be affected because people going to services can still access the intersection from the west on Oak Street and the south on Church Street.
The Delta Velo/Grand Prix Cycling Team, which is organizing the race, has submitted a traffic plan to the city that has the goal of avoiding congestion around the churches, organizer Damian Gonzalez said.
When people approach Lodi, there will be signs directing traffic to the west side of the course, he said.
The organizers are mainly working to secure sponsorships and work out the race logistics, while the city had a greater hand in the permitting process, Gonzalez said.
Because this is the first race in Downtown Lodi, he said it has been a learning process.
"We are willing to work with anyone, and we are not trying to shut anyone out," Gonzalez said. "We know the logistics of putting on a bike race, but the aspect of surrounding businesses we are new to."
The Downtown Lodi Business Partnership announced the event in its newsletter, city spokesman Jeff Hood said. Also, almost a month ago, the city informed affected businesses about the race because it is a required part of the encroachment permit process, Rodems said. Churches were not listed in the permit language, so the city accidentally did not inform them.
Rodems plans to meet with church leaders Wednesday and said the city will change its policy to ensure churches are notified in the future. He said this is the first time his department has dealt with the permits.
But it's not just this single event that is bothersome, Kimber said. Over the past few years, the city has expanded the street faire to two Sundays a year, and he feels as if the city does not consider the needs of local churches.
"What we are left with is the impression, in speaking with other clergy, that the city is very willing to accommodate for card shops and expand anything to do with the wine industry, but at the expense of the faith community, and that is a disturbing trend," Kimber said.
As other churches have moved farther away from Downtown, Kimber said his congregation has stayed to be part of the Downtown revitalization.
"In a very real way, our right to public worship have been impinged upon. … Without consultation about the bike race on Sunday, it says, 'We want you as a Downtown partner, but we really don't need you.'"
In the future, Rodems anticipates the city will add events because Lodi needs to bring in tourist activities to pay for the parking lots the churches use as well as other city services.
"We appreciate the fact they want to stay Downtown, but there is the practical reality that we do events to help the community, and that's the bottom line," Rodems said. "We appreciate their concerns, and we will work with them on their concerns to make sure the race doesn't heavily impact church services."
News-Sentinel City Editor Andrew Adams contributed to this story.
Editor's Note: This story was updated at 12:08 p.m. to clarify that July 12 race was not the first of its kind in Lodi.