Contributed by Katy Biggerstaff, Publicist, NewGround PR & Marketing
What do Portland, Minneapolis, Boulder, Washington D.C. and Chicago all have in common? At first glance, it might not seem like much, but these cities have some of the best bike cultures in the country. As the top five in America's Top 50 Bike-Friendly Cities, each of these cities has its own unique characteristics that make it worthy of the name. And they're helping the bike movement gain momentum in other cities across the United States as well.
One of those cities happens to be my hometown, Long Beach, Calif., where the bike culture is vibrant and growing. And I’m not just saying it because I love the city - Bicycling magazine actually named it one of the Five Up and Coming Bike Cities for 2012.
So what makes Long Beach (and other cities like it) bike-friendly?
Roads, paths and signage must be put in place in order to protect cyclists, motorists and even pedestrians. Some examples of infrastructure that support cycling include separated bike lanes and boulevards, bikeways, transit hubs, bikestations, bike parking, and wayfinding signage.
Advocacy and Community Support
To build a thriving bike culture, communities need the support of local officials and business leaders. For example, organizations like Bike Nation are privately funded; yet require the backing of local government in order to be successful. Bike Nation’s bike-share programs provide bikes at rental kiosks throughout cities, including Los Angeles, which aims to add 400 kiosks and 4,000 bikes within the next 2 years. Washington D.C. and Denver have similar bike-share programs.
Education and Services
Knowing how to ride a bike is only beneficial if you know how to operate one safely as well. The League of American Bicyclists offers Smart Cycling classes to adults and children across the United States. Many bike-friendly cities also have their own training and programs aimed at teaching cyclists how to ride safely and encourage motorists to share the road.
But why should you care? Here are the three primary benefits to building a sustainable bike culture:
It's Good for You
Bike riding is good exercise for all ages. Whether you’ve got an old rusty hand-me-down two-wheeler or a fancy top-of-the-line race model, riding a bike improves cardiovascular fitness, builds strength and muscle tone and reduces stress. It’s also an easy way to fit a workout into your daily schedule.
It's Good for the Environment
Cars are a major source of pollution; so reducing the usage of a car and replacing it with a bike, especially for shorter trips, can have significant environmental impact. Using a bike to commute to work, run errands and shop is a great way to immediately start reducing the amount of pollution and oil and gas use.
It's Good for the Economy
Because of the shorter distances, people that bike are more likely to buy local and support local business, which not only fuels economic activity, but also fosters shared community. For example, “Bike Saturdays” is a program in Long Beach where various restaurants and retail shops offer discounts to bicyclists every Saturday. Getting people out of their cars and onto the streets encourages more social interaction with one another.
You can only fully come to understand the benefits and reap the rewards of a bike-friendly city if you are actively participating in it (and telling others to as well)! I love riding my bike around Long Beach and will continue to do so whether it’s for fun, fitness or transportation.
Posted: 11/3/2012 1:47:21 PM by
Heather Wallace | with 0 comments