Thursday, October 22, 2009

Bicycle friendly America

The League of American Bicyclists added 15 new communities to their Fall 2009 master list of Bicycle Friendly Communities in America. Lancaster did not make the list but momentum is gathering to improve our situation.

Ninja Fast wants to know what you think makes a community bicycle friendly.

According to the League, Lancaster has a lot of work to do before it will be considered as a bicycle friendly community.

Philadelphia, our neighbor to the East where bicycles hang from street signs like Spanish Moss, is the only recognized bicycle friendly community in the state. As such, it is still only a bronze community. This basically means that, "we notice you are trying, but you've got a few things to work on before you will be recognized as silver or gold. You may never reach platinum."

Only three communities in the country are platinum winners: Boulder, CO; Davis, CA and Portland, OR.

Pennsylvania, as a state, is only ranked 40th out of 50 for being bicycle friendly. The League states that, "Pennsylvania has an exemplary route network, but no safe passing distance law and no accommodation or complete streets policy."

It is not easy to become recognized as a bicycle friendly community. The application process requires that a community report on how it promotes bicycle riding from multiple angles. The community must be actively working on measurable outcomes in Engineering, Education, Encouragement, Equality, Enforcement and Evaluation.

A renewal process assures that even recognized communities are continually striving to do better. The program is careful to prevent communities from slipping back into their old unfriendly ways.

I'm not looking for hot showers and a masseuse on ever corner, but I would like to see Lancaster organize its efforts enough to begin the application process for this program. My goal is to simply see more of my neighbors leaving their house in the morning with a bicycle helmet on.

I have recently joined the League of Lancaster Bicyclists and hope to work more with them as a channel for advocating change in our community. I want to see concrete things happen that make more people consider bicycling as a viable form of transportation.

Let me know if you have ideas about how to make bicycle commuting an attractive option in Lancaster.

Read more about the Bicycle Friendly America program and see how your state ranks among others.

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