10 Ways to Build a Bicycle Friendly Community

bike to work
bike to work
Cyclists participate in a ride during the National Bike Summit in Washington, D.C., a day of bike advocacy on Capitol Hill. (photo: Brian Palmer)

This is a guest post by Bill Nesper, Vice President of Programs at the League of American Bicyclists.

Bicycling is more than a practical, cost-effective solution to many municipal challenges. It’s an opportunity to make your community a vibrant destination for residents and visitors — a place where people don’t just live and work, but thrive.

Bicycle Friendly Communities top the lists of best places to live, work, and visit. Bicycle commuting is up 62% in the United States since 2000 – and it’s grown by 105% in BFCs who are making investments in better infrastructure, education, and encouragement.

Smart leaders across the country are meeting the demand by adding more dedicated bike facilities and connecting bike networks that are comfortable and convenient for all ages and abilities, creating more opportunities for people to learn bicycling skills, improving laws, ordinances and policies to improve safety, and creating an authentic and inclusive bike culture, through events like Open Streets and Bike to Work Week.

With Bike to Work Week just around the corner (May 11-15), it’s a great time to take a look at bicycling in your community. It is your chance to get on a bike and see how safe, comfortable and convenient bicycling is in your community. Here are five things you can do to get started, and five longer-term actions to transform your community.

Five things to do this week:

  1. Ride your bike this week and bike to work on Bike to Work Day, which is Friday, May 15. It will make you happy and give you a new way to connect with people in your community. Look for BTWD events, bicycling classes, bicycling clubs to ride with and more at http://bikeleague.org/map. Then tell us your story.
  2. Use that bike ride and this Quick Assessment to think about the current barriers keeping people from bicycling more regularly in your community. Learn about what things that can be done to build a Bicycle Friendly Community.
  3. Think about what it would take to make your community government a model Bicycle Friendly Business. Introduce your chamber of commerce and business associations to the Bicycle Friendly Business program as a new way to engage with local businesses.
  4. Watch and share these short bicycling skills-building videos.
  5. Celebrate National Bike Month by taking staff on a lunch ride and invite the public to join or hold a community meeting on a bike ride.

Five longer-term actions to build a Bicycle Friendly Community:

  1. Adopt a Complete Streets policy and design standards that create a connected, inclusive all-ages-and abilities bicycling network.
  2. Reach the general public with the vision of a Bicycle Friendly Community and offer regular opportunities for children and adults to gain bicycling skills and traffic safety education.
  3. Support a bicycling culture throughout the year by supporting more family-friendly community and charity rides, bike valet parking at community events, ‘Ciclovia’ or Open Streets events, and other bicycle-themed festivals.
  4. Support and enforce better bicycle-friendly safety ordinances at state and local levels.
  5. Set an ambitious ridership and safety target for your community, develop an actionable plan, and support dedicated funding for implementation. And don’t forget to apply for the Bicycle Friendly Community designation. Every applicant gets custom feedback on what to do to become a great BFC.

Learn more about Bike To Work Day, Bicycle Friendly Communities and more at bikeleague.org.

About the Author: Bill Nesper is Vice President of Programs at the League of American Bicyclists in Washington, D.C. Follow the League on Twitter @bikeleague.

Bill Nesper
Vice President of Programs at the League of American Bicyclists in Washington, D.C.
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