4 Big Ideas from Small Towns
This story originally appeared in our Winter 2015 American Bicyclist magazine. Want it in your mailbox? Join the League as a member today!
Innovation isn’t a one-size-fits-all venture.
Cities and their leaders are often cited as leading the movement to create more bikeable and walkable places — but we often leave out a large swath of innovative projects and partnerships happening in communities smaller than some neighborhoods in New York City. Our Bicycle Friendly Community program sees many small town ideas worth sharing.
CENTRALIZED PUBLIC BICYCLE AMENITIES
The Downtown Association of Wenatchee, Wash., has partnered with the city and a local business owner to convert a downtown corridor into a bike plaza. The plaza has covered bike parking, a Fixit stand for bicycle repair, and a bicycle supply vending machine. It’s conveniently located close to the Wenatchee Loop Trail. A central bike facility such as Wenatchee’s encourages more residents to bike to work and offers much needed tools and supplies.
A HUMAN-SCALE DOWNTOWN
Parking lots take up valuable space that can be used as public or green space, or additional commercial or residential square footage. In Hagerstown, Md., a downtown zoning district limits off-street vehicle parking spaces. Prioritizing this allows for a comfortable, beautiful and peopleoriented downtown.
PRIORITIZING ACTIVE TRANSPORTATION
In Carrboro, NC, the city adopted a policy establishing that roads should be widened only to accommodate bike lanes and sidewalks. Such a policy is particularly impactful in communities with narrow right-of-ways and helps to maintain a town’s unique character.
ENCOURAGING LOCAL TRIPS BY BICYCLE
The Bicycle Benefits program in Burlington, VT, allows residents to purchase a $5 helmet sticker. Why? It’s a golden ticket of sorts: making riders eligible to receive discounts at more than 50 local businesses. Develop your own program or learn more about the national Bicycle Benefits program at bicyclebenefits.org.