Let celebrate bronze, but then get back to work
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As bicycling continues to grow in popularity across the country, there is a growing competition among city leaders to be known as the best city for bicycling. One benchmark in this competition is to be designated a Bicycle Friendly Community (BFC) by the League of American Bicyclists (LAB).
In May 2013, five years after receiving an honorable mention, the City of Cleveland has finally joined the ranks of 259 other communities across the country and now holds the distinction of being a bronze-level Bicycle Friendly Community.
We all know it is an exciting time to be on a bike in Cleveland, but there is still work to be done. Over the past two-years advocates have worked with the City of Cleveland to help pave the path for faster implementation through policies like the Complete and Green Streets Ordinance and better enforcement through the Bicycle Transportation Safety Ordinance, which requires motorists to give bicycles 3-feet when passing. While policies are helpful tools in forcing decision makers to think about biking, we still have a long way to go in terms of installation of on-the-ground bicycle facilities compared to many cities on the BFC list.
This is why I write today in celebration of you. The City of Cleveland Bronze Level BFC award was made possible in large part thanks to your continued efforts in growing a strong bicycle culture in Cleveland. Things like:
- The opening of the Cleveland Velodrome in 2012;
- The construction and opening of the commuter bike parking station, the Cleveland Bike Rack,
- The development of innovative on-street and off-street bike parking corrals, locally called the BikeBox;
- The growth of numerous social rides throughout Cleveland organized by grassroots groups including Crank Set Rides and Cleveland Critical Mass;
- The convening of a bike share task force and the City of Cleveland’s feasibility study for bike sharing that is currently underway;
- The construction of the Lorain Carnegie Bikeway in 2012;
- The opening of many bike-focused businesses including 4 community bike shops, 2 local bike rack fabricators, 2 bike touring companies, and a bicycle themed bar;
- The development of Bike Cleveland, the region’s voice advocating for safe, stress-free bike environments. Currently, the organization has over 400 members;
- The growth of businesses that value biking for economic and employee health reasons, including Cleveland’s only Bicycle Friendly Business, Squire Sanders;
- Numerous bike education programs led by the Ohio City Bicycle C0-op.
- The publication of the Great Lakes Courier, a monthly bike-centric newspaper that keeps the cycling community informed on bicycle news across Greater Cleveland.
Our work towards creating a truly bicycle-friendly city does not end with a Bronze Level designation. We need to be bold in the way we are encouraging more people to bike in our city. To be bold we need to continue to advocate for increased investments in connected infrastructure that makes biking comfortable and accessible for people of all abilities. We need to develop policies that incentive biking over driving. We need to show the benefits of biking as a form of transportation, a way to improved health and environment, and a key to building a stronger economy.
Every Clevelander can help in this effort through participation in the many rides and events around Cleveland, by getting engaged in the ongoing dialogue towards creating more bike facilities, by visiting one of the many bike friendly businesses in our fine City, and by becoming a member of Bike Cleveland.