Saturday, May 1, 2010

Roanoke Designated Bicycle Friendly

The League of American Bicyclists has named Roanoke a Bicycle Friendly Community. Roanoke joins Alexandria, Arlington and Charlottesville as Virginia's only Bicycle Friendly Communities.

Bicycle Friendly Communities are designated twice each year based on feedback from cyclists in the community and an extensive application that audits a community's efforts to provide a more bicycle friendly environment.

The audit reviews engineering, education, encouragement, enforcement and evaluation and planning efforts for bicycling. Roanoke's application was prepared by its volunteer Bicycle Advisory Committee made up of bicyclists, driving educators, transportation professionals, concerned parents, engineers, and regional planners, in consultation with city staff.

"Roanoke is a great place for biking, with its combination of smooth greenways, challenging hills and trails, and low traffic, bike friendly neighborhood streets," says Mayor David Bowers. "Our biking community has worked hard to achieve this award. We thank the League for recognizing the efforts the city has taken to improve the quality of life for our citizens by supporting safer biking, walking and running. Our expanding greenways and off road trails, and our bicycling and running events are making Roanoke one of the best outdoor cities in the country. This designation is exciting and puts Roanoke on the national biking map."

David Harrison, who chairs the city's Bicycle Advisory Committee says: "[The designation] will help the region's economic development efforts. Increasingly, employers and workers look for recreational opportunities in deciding where to locate. Bicycling is also a family activity that encourages an active, healthy lifestyle. We now need to capitalize on the momentum from this award by increasing our efforts to improve our bicycle facilities and to educate the public about how cars and bikes can safely share our streets, so that more people feel comfortable riding a bicycle to work or school, and to shop, as well as for recreation."

The Bicycle Friendly Community program includes five designations: Platinum, Gold, Silver, Bronze, and honorable mention. Roanoke was granted the bronze-level designation for four years. The League of American Bicyclists will provide the city with feedback on how the city can become more bicycle-friendly and eventually receive those higher designations.

There are only two Platinum cities: Davis, Calif. and Portland, Oregon. The League will present the award, and a highway-quality road sign, at a local ceremony in the near future.

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