Thursday, March 26, 2015

Fairhope Seeks "Bicycle-Friendly Community" Status

Fairhope, Alabama. (


Steve Clark
Wednesday at the USA auditorium, Steve Clark, a "bicycle-friendly community specialist" from the League of American Bicyclists, capped off a day of informational seminars to promote bicycling in the city.

The program was co-sponsored by the Baldwin County Trailblazers, Molly Peterson president; and scheduled to coincide with the state's annual bicycle summit beginning in Montgomery today (Thursday).

 (see video below)

Clark said he travels to over a hundred cities a year to help them qualify for official  "bicycle-friendly status" from the Minnesota-based league, which was established in 1880.

There are currently 320 bike-friendly communities in the United States; only one in Alabama: Auburn.

Four levels of attainment are possible, depending upon results of the evaluation process: bronze, silver, gold and platinum. The city's Planning Department is currently working on the lengthy application.

Molly Peterson
The "Five E's" essential to success:

* Engineering to create infrastructure.
* Educate cyclists and motorists
* Encourage a strong bike culture.
* Enforcement of (traffic) laws.
* Evaluation of results


Bike parking lacking in Fairhope
Clark then explained 12 major strategies for achievment:

1. Bring people together: the three legs of the stool are policy
    makers, citizens advocates, and  bike-friendly agency staff.

2. Pass policies that put people first: laws, ordiances.

3. Provide 'welcoming places': public art, places to

4. Build a safe, connected network: bike paths, bike lanes,
    "complete streets"

Safe street crossings essential
5. Provide safe street crossings: medians, pedestrian islands, etc.

6. Lower speeds: fewer accidents and injuries

7. Educate and empower citizens: schools, PTA, etc.

8. Provide ample bike parking: bike racks, protected "corrals"

9. Encourage cycling: through events such as monthly "slow
    rolls" or evening rides.

Bike parking "corrals"
10. Optimize public transportation: multi-modal, bike to bus,
      'bike sharing'

11. Make cycling advantageous: as safe, pleasant and comfortable
      as possible using 'bike boulevards' through neighborhoods,
      short cuts between cul de sacs, connectivity.

12. Document and evaluate statistics: provide evidence of


Louise Crawford and Preston Tyre of the "Path Less Pedaled" organization then spoke about bicycle-friendliness from a tourism perspective -- to benefit local businesses.

Crawford, Tyre
Crawford said it is "about using bikes as a tool to draw visitors in ... give them a reason to come to town,"

"One of the keys to successful tourism is hospitality ... being welcoming and friendly to bicyclists."

Tyre, who had met with several business owners earlier in the day about bike-hospitalility said "you clearly have an issue here" with merchants.

Better outreach to hotels, restaurants, coffee shops, etc. is needed to get them more involved; more bike parking is needed -- and places where bikes can be watched such as outdoor street-side dining areas/patios.

Developing signs businesses can use to "visually welcome cyclists" was also suggested.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Excellent reporting!