Less than a year after a committee was tasked with making recommendations to improve Phoenix's appeal for bicyclists, the town of just more than 4,500 residents has been recognized for its efforts by a national biking organization.
The Bike Friendly Phoenix Committee, which began work earlier this year to identify improvements to accessibility and safety for cyclists, helped the city earn an honorable mention under the Bicycle Friendly Community program established by the League of American Bicyclists.
The bike-friendly distinction gives communities added leverage when applying for grants related to projects focused on promoting and improving bike transportation, said bike committee member Laurie Nielsen of Phoenix.
In the Rogue Valley, Ashland is the only other city to be recognized as a bike-friendly community, ranked bronze. Phoenix didn't rate as highly as Ashland, but Nielsen said the months-long process included a breakdown on how Phoenix can improve its rating.
The League of American Bicyclists designates communities as bronze, silver, gold and platinum and acknowledges communities that are close to becoming bicycle friendly, but which still have some room to grow, with an honorable mention, according to the group's website, www.bikeleague.org.
Nielsen said local committee members learned during the grueling process that first-time applicants don't often make the grade.
"From what we've heard, only one of three applicants gets any sort of distinction the first time they apply, so this is really a big deal for our little town," Nielsen said.
As part of the process, Nielsen said, the league will make recommendations in a number of areas, including engineering, education, enforcement, evaluation and planning, as well as ways to encourage cyclists to access the city's businesses and trails.
Improvements thus far have included safer crossings along the Bear Creek Greenway, setting up an $8 helmet program at City Hall, bike safety programs at local schools and a diversion program for cyclists who receive traffic violations.
— Buffy Pollock