WASHINGTON, D.C. - MAY 14, 2012 - May is National Bike Month with hundreds of events and thousands of riders celebrating bicycling nationwide, and a growing number of U.S. communities are taking steps to encourage residents to ride all year round - including the City of Charlottesville. On Monday, May14 2012, the League of American Bicyclists announced the latest round of Bicycle Friendly Communities (BFC) and the City of Charlottesville was named a Silver BFC.
"We are not surprised that this was the largest number of new and renewing applicants that we've ever had," said League President Andy Clarke. "The popularity of this program is clear evidence that investment in bicycling is a major catalyst in creating the kind of vibrant communities people want to live, work and visit. The City of Charlottesville recognizes that simple steps to make bicycling safe and comfortable pay huge dividends in civic, community and economic development."
The BFC program is revolutionizing the way communities evaluate their quality of life, sustainability and transportation networks, while allowing them to benchmark their progress toward improving their bicycle-friendliness. With this impressive round, there are now 214 BFCs in 47 states across America. The Silver BFC award recognizes Charlottesville's commitment to improving conditions for bicycling through investment in bicycling promotion, education programs, infrastructure and pro-bicycling policies.
Some of the recent, innovative projects helping Charlottesville to become more bicycle friendly include the Cville Bike mApp, a collaboration between Bike Charlottesville's Jeff Shirley and TJPDC's Steve Williams and Sarah Rhodes, and the development of Charlottesville's first Neighborhood Greenway.
"The Cville Bike mApp is a bold new approach enabling cyclists to provide direct input to transportation planners about where they bike" explained Sarah Rhodes, TJPDC Transporation Planner. It's actually the first time in the U.S. that data from mobile bike route tracking software will be used to help inform a long range transportation plan. Bike Charlottesville spokesperson Heather Higgins pointed out that "the close working relationship between Bike Charlottesville and TJPDC created the opportunity for this software and planning collaboration."
The other exciting Charlottesville first is the 6th Street Greenway which is presently in development. "Neighborhood Greenways are existing low-traffic residential streets that have been retrofitted into enhanced safe and enjoyable ways to connect the places where we work, live, and play," explained Higgins. Traffic flow is prioritized around bicyclists and pedestrians rather than cars. The 6th Street Greenway, when complete will be Charlottesville's first Neighborhood Greenway. It'll connect Jordan Park to downtown and include the first contra flow bike lane in Charlottesville (6th Street between Garrett St and Monticello Ave).
The BFC program provides a roadmap to building a Bicycle Friendly Community and the application itself has become a rigorous and an educational tool. Since its inception, more then 500 distinct communities have applied and the four levels of the award - platinum, gold, silver and bronze - provide a clear incentive for communities to continuously improve.
To apply or learn more about the free BFC program, visit bikeleague.org/community.