Today, the City of Lakeland was designated as a Bronze level Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists. The Bicycle Friendly America program provides incentives, hands-on assistance and award recognition for communities, universities and businesses that actively support bicycling.
Rick Perez, Senior Planner for the City of Lakeland said, “We received a request from the locaorganization, Bike Lakeland to apply for bike friendly status and the City Commission approved a resolution to pursue the designation soon after that.” He added, “The Community Development Department worked with staff from Public Works, LPD and Parks and Recreation as well as the bicycling community and other agencies such as the School Board to complete the application. It is exciting to know that Lakeland was designated as a Bronze level Bike Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists.”
Over the past 10 years, the League has worked with hundreds of engineers, government officials and bicycle advocates to identify the DNA of bicycle friendliness. Using that expert knowledge, the League evaluates communities on the following criteria:
1. Engineering: Physical infrastructure and hardware to support cycling
2. Education: Programs that ensure the safety, comfort and convenience of cyclists
3. Encouragement: Incentives, promotions and opportunities that inspire cycling
4. Enforcement: Programs that ensure motorists and cyclists are held accountable
5. Evaluation: Process that demonstrates a commitment to planning for the future
Celeste Deardorff, Long Range Planning Manager for the City of Lakeland said, “This award means that the City is being recognized for its continued commitment to cycling as a means of recreation and as a mode of transportation. Lakeland is now among the few localities in Florida who have achieved such a level of recognition.” She added, “This award will help the City to attract avid bicycle enthusiasts of all ages and highlights one aspect of Lakeland’s quality of life that can be used in economic development and recruiting efforts by our local businesses, educators and others in our community.”
In four years the community will be re-evaluated and based on that assessment, the City of Lakeland can either improve or lose the bike friendly designation. Deardorff said, “In order to maintain our award recognition and aspire to a new level, it will be important for Lakeland to enhance cycling initiatives by working with local enthusiasts, bicycle clubs and other partner organizations within the community.”
There is already a framework in place to improve Lakeland’s bike friendly status such as:
1. Engaging the public and employers in cycling through leadership with bike to work days, ride with the Mayor/Commissioner events, promoting bike commuter programs, and creating a citizen advisory board to provide input on cycling projects and programs.
2. Improving upon existing infrastructure with a trail network throughout the City and work closely with schools to create safe bike routes to school.
3. Promote cycling as an economic development tool: Market Lakeland as a bicycling destination for tourism, conduct an economic impact study on bicycling in Lakeland, initiate a bike share program and attract more bicycle related events.
The Bike Friendly designation demonstrates that the City of Lakeland is committed to improving the safety, convenience, and enjoyment for all cyclists in the community whether they are recreational, commuter or sport riders. The end result is a higher quality of life that furthers the City’s vision as a world class community and it helps attract those that enjoy an active, healthy lifestyle. Please visit www.bikeleague.org for more information on Bike Friendly Communities.