What a bike-friendly designation means to you
Today we welcome a guest blog from BikeWalkLee, posted November 25, 2015:
Last week we celebrated two new local communities earning Bicycle Friendly Community status–Cape Coral and Naples. This week we look at what it means for cyclists and residents in those communities. Thanks to BWL’s Ken Gooderham for writing this excellent column.
The news that both Cape Coral and Naples recently earned a bronze Bike Friendly Community designation was widely hailed. But what does that mean for cyclists and residents in those two cities?
It means these municipalities are working to improve conditions for cyclists – and, by extension, everyone. That’s not just bike paths; it’s education and coordination, a focus on safety for all road users, and a reduction in fatalities even with an increase in ridership.
It means they are committed to actual improvements, not just the status quo. The League of American Bicyclists (LAB), the group which awards the designation, doesn’t grade on promises, but on actions. LAB has very specific benchmarks communities ought to meet to even get on the bike-friendly chart, while recognizing that no two communities are alike. The common theme is to show progress in making your city better for biking – and that doesn’t happen through speeches and platitudes, but with a commitment to improvement with the funding and staffing to back it up.
It means they support the economic enhancements better bicycle infrastructure brings. Better bike facilities bring people to business areas and, better yet, keep them there longer to potentially spend money and attract other buyers (and sellers). The BFC designation is a tourism tool as well, telling people who are looking for a place to play (and stay) that a community has this very attractive amenity to offer them, is a place that values safety and fitness, and doesn’t necessarily rely on cars to make things happen.
It means these are cities with strong leadership and strategic community support. Better bike-friendliness almost always tends to involve a public-private partnership, where a strong private-sector advocate works with (and motivates) a willing public-sector implementer. It takes time to achieve, requiring a network of partners with focus and staying power – essential building blocks for any community-building effort and a sign of strength whatever the undertaking.
It means they have more work to do – and you need to support them in those efforts. A Bronze designation is great, certainly a moment to be savored. But keeping the designation takes work, and improving it takes even more. Even moving up to Silver is challenging, as Sanibel (the closest thing we have to a bike mecca in the region) found out when it made the move up a few years back.
For example, in weighing bike friendliness LAB looks at how communities fare in the five Es:
- Engineering: Creating safe and convenient places to ride and park.
- Education: Giving people of all ages and abilities the skills and confidence to ride.
- Encouragement: Creating a strong bike culture that welcomes and celebrates bicycling.
- Enforcement: Ensuring safe roads for all users.
- Evaluation & planning: Planning for bicycling as a safe and viable transportation option.
So making progress is a multi-level effort – more than just building more bike paths or holding a few more classes. Winning the BFC designation shows Cape Coral and Naples are willing to start the process. But to keep it and improve on it will take even more support from the community and commitment from city officials and staff. So if you’re a resident (and a bike rider) in these cities, lend your support to keep these enhancements rolling forward – so both cities can keep going for the Gold (or Platinumor even, unlikely as that may be, a Diamond designation).
BikeWalkLee is a community coalition raising public awareness and advocating for complete streets in Lee County—streets that are designed, built, operated and maintained for safe and convenient travel for all users: pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit riders of all ages and abilities. Information, statistics and background online at www.BikeWalkLee.org.
Editor’s note: Bike Florida and Florida Bicycle Association share a common cause in bicycle education for residents and visitors to the Sunshine “Bike-Ped” State. Share the Road license plate proceeds benefit Bike Florida and Florida Bicycle Association to further these bicycle educational efforts. What’s on your motor vehicle? Get the Share the Road license plate!
Did you know Rejjee is the only nation-wide multi-product registry and crowd sourced Lost & Found that includes discount product replacement offers on bicycles? Rejjee also supports Florida Bicycle Association and FBA supports Rejjee.
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