Bicycle Friendly Community
It’s official: The League reached 100 visits to communities across the country this year, helping them to create more bicycle friendly places for their residents. I completed 77 of those visits myself, so, as you can image, I have a lot of lessons to share. Here’s some of what I learned.
The City of Milwaukee once again was awarded a Bronze Bicycle Friendly Community award status by the League of American Bicyclists. We know the bar is continually being raised on what it means to be bicycle-friendly. To meet those challenges, City of Milwauke Mayor Tom Barrett has directed Milwaukee’s Department of Public Works Commissioner Ghassan Korban and City Engineer Jeff Polenske to establish a sub-committee of the City’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Task Force to define the path to not only reaching Silver but going for Gold-level status. The City is already making progress on many of the League’s recommended “Steps to Silver.”
The Juneau Police Department has played an important role in educating the community and elementary children on bicycle safety through its annual bicycle rodeos. The Police Chief has also started a new campaign called “Spot the Chief for a 10 spot”. Any member of the public who spots the Chief as he rides through town with a spotted jersey can call into the Police Department and receive ten dollars. This campaign received great media coverage and helps promote bicycle safety and awareness.Trail Mix a non-profit coordinates with the City and maintains trails for mountain bikers.
Today the League of American Bicyclists announced 55 new and renewing Bicycle Friendly Communities (BFC). With this new round, 69 million people live in a Bicycle Friendly Community as the program extends to all 50 states. These new awardees join a leading group of more than 325 communities in all 50 states that are improving health, safety and quality of life in cities and towns nationwide.
This week, my colleague, Steve Clark, wrote about his experience riding with Cherokee Schill and the conditions she faces while biking to work in Kentucky. Her fight for her right to road reflects our society’s decisions about how we create roads, how we create laws for those roads, and the culture of safety we choose to create for our roadways. So what’s the legal background for her fight? And are their signs of hope for Kentucky’s future? Keep reading…
I used to think I was about as fearless and empowered as any cyclist out there. Then I rode with Cherokee Schill. When I was in Lexington, Kentucky recently for a Bicycle Friendly Community visit, I rode with Schill, a woman who’s been ticketed and even jailed for biking to work in the travel lane, rather than the shoulder, of a busy state highway.
Initiated in 2010, Slow Roll is a mass bicycle ride that takes place every Monday night in Detroit. Last month, I was able to join the Slow Roll, riding through the Motor City with more than 4,000 people, experiencing the bicycle as truly a great equalizer, a device that can bring us together: one gigantic, happy family of humankind.
(Part of our ongoing Building Blocks of a Bicycle Friendly Community series.) I’m going to come right out and say it: Cities that have bicycle program managers or bike coordinators are far more bicycle friendly than those that do not -– even when the same amount of resources are being devoted to improving conditions for bicycling.
The most bicycle friendly places are those that adopt city ordinances to help improve or promote bicycling. One easily visible example is a bicycle parking ordinance like the one in Santa Monica, Calif., which not only ensures an adequate supply of racks at destinations, but also requires event organizers to have monitored bicycle parking for 200 – 250 bikes if attendance is expected to reach 1,000 or more (requiring 3 attendants).
In all my travels, I’ve seen a lot of great things on the street, from green lanes to bike boxes. But those high-profile facilities are the result of something far less visible: words. For a truly Bicycle Friendly Community, before you can put paint to pavement, you need the laws and policies that legitimize and encourage safe cycling.