The results are in! Pinellas County has just been presented with a Bicycle Friendly Community award from the League of American Bicyclists (“The League”), joining a growing list of more than 400 other U.S. communities that have received an award. As a Bronze Level award recipient, Pinellas County is the fifth county in Florida, along with Broward County, Indian River County, Miami-Dade County, and South Lake County, to achieve this honor; these forward-thinking communities are leading the effort in transforming the statewide transportation landscape.
“The Bicycle Friendly Community award is an exciting recognition of the many opportunities that Pinellas offers bicyclists, from the Pinellas Trail loop to our Complete Streets,” said Whit Blanton, Forward Pinellas executive director. Forward Pinellas is the countywide land use and transportation planning agency overseeing policies, helping ensure all road users, including bicycle riders, are considered. “Pinellas County is an attractive destination for bicyclists because of the short distances between thriving downtowns, essential retail and services, and the natural assets of the bay and beaches.”
“The League is right on track with that designation … (The trail) was developed to allow people to enjoy the corridor and to use connections that I think are eventually going to network the entire state,” said Becky Afonso, executive director of the Florida Bicycle Association, and Pinellas County resident and bicycle advocate. “With the development of the trail 25 years ago, the county has certainly been paying attention to bicyclists.” This recognition is a result of decades of work in developing bicycle infrastructure, beginning with the Pinellas Trail.
Communities that choose to be evaluated by The League for a potential Bicycle Friendly Community award must go through a rigorous application process. When evaluating a city or region for its bike-friendliness, The League considers numerous factors, including, but not limited to: public policy; bicycle infrastructure; land use context; and access to public transit. The results of the evaluation lead to one of the following levels––diamond, platinum, gold, silver, bronze, or an honorable mention––or to no designation at all. Applicants receive feedback and guidance, regardless of award level, with the goal of helping each community to improve. Awarded communities must reapply to the program every four years to ensure bicycle-friendly efforts are maintained and, ideally, improved upon. The League’s ranking system also builds in incentives for communities to keep improving and eventually move up the award-level ranks.
For more information about The League of American Bicyclists Bicycle Friendly Community program and other Bicycle Friendly America programs, please visit:.