The Bicycle Friendly Community program is so much more than giving out awards. There’s a greater goal behind our work: helping communities to become places where anyone can ride a bike safely and comfortably to almost any destination for transportation or recreation.
Certainly, the award recognition is important to the people on the ground, from the advocates pushing for better bike facilities, to the educators teaching Smart Cycling classes and city leaders working to improve economic sustainability and quality of life for citizens. But the BFA team is here to provide guidance and support as communities work to get on the BFC board — and move up the ranks.
St. Petersburg, Fla., is a perfect example of a community that’s attained a Bronze-level BFC designation but is continuing to work with the League to make biking an option for everyone. A few weeks back, I took a trip to the Sunshine State and got a chance to see all of the great work being done with Joe Kubicki, the city’s Director of Transportation and Parking Management and Cheryl Stacks, St. Petersburg’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator.
I was excited to see that the city is thinking beyond the self-identified bicyclist, to reach the kid going to school, the tourist going to the beach and the average person headed to the office. A Bronze-level BFC since 2006, the city has made strong and steady progress and is within striking distance of a Silver award.
With a bike program budget of more than $1 million annually, the city has been expanding the bicycling network, now at 109 miles of dedicated bike facilities, including bike lanes, shared-use paths and a downtown cycle track. In addition, the city has added hundreds of bike racks around town, offers regular bike commuting skills classes and has a growing bike culture with regular rides and events.
The best news is that all of these are giving St. Petersburg a return on investment. The new commuter numbers from U.S. Census Bureau show that, over the past 10 years, the percentage of people bicycling to work has more than doubled. The city now has a bicycle commuter rate three times the national average!
So much worth celebrating- Keep up the great work!
Bill NesperNesper directs the Bicycle Friendly America Program, which includes the Bicycle Friendly Community, Bicycle Friendly State, Bicycle Friendly University and Bicycle Friendly Business recognition programs. Bill first joined the League as a Membership Assistant in 2002 and moved in 2005 to manage the League education programs and Bicycle Friendly Community Program.
League Vice President of Programs