Ever wonder what full-time bicycling advocates spend their e-mail quotas on? Here’s what advocates from St. Pete to the Keys are talking about this week (other than HB 917, of course): The League of American Bicyclists Bicycle Friendly Communities program.
Unlike Bicycling Magazine’s program, the League uses specific benchmarks to determine if a city/town or state can be called “Bicycle-Friendly.” This is hugely important to advocates. When bicyclists went to the City of Miami three years ago to demand action in response to Miami’s terrible reputation for bicycle safety, they gave the Mayor a list of demands. As an employee of the Mayor’s back then, I relied heavily on the League’s measures to keep our team focused on rapidly and effectively improving conditions of people who bicycle through the city. When it came time to present the City’s Bicycle Action and Master Plans before City Commissioners, we were able to use the ‘Bicycle-Friendly’ status of the League as a non-partisan, evaluation-measure-based goal that politicians could agree on. With this status as an officially stated goal, advocates in the City of Miami have a toolkit for promoting safer roads, improved enforcement and increased education. In my experience, the Bicycle-Friendly Communities program works. Soon, the City will apply for recognition and status. We may not get it – and that’s just fine! Built into the application process is the promise of receiving a free audit of sorts: “States that wish to apply for a Bicycle Friendly State award designation can receive further recognition and promotion of their efforts as well as feedback, technical assistance, training and further encouragement to improve their bicycling legislation, projects, and programs.” Armed with official feedback from the League, advocates, planners and politicians can sit down and direct their efforts in a sensible way.
This week, advocates across the state are talking about whether or not the Florida Bicycle Association should apply for Bicycle-Friendly status for the State of Florida. Currently, the League ranks Florida as 32 out of 50 with this explanation:
State Snapshot: Florida has an excellent complete streets policy. However, the state has no cell phone use restrictions and high crash and fatality rates.
Right. We have a long way to go. The position of the South Florida Bike Coalition is that the State of Florida should apply for LAB Bicycle-Friendly status anyway. Let’s see what the League has to say. We’ll publish their feedback right here and then set up meetings with local and state officials. We think it will help us get increased support for our policy goals and help us identify allies in the fight against legislation like HB917. What do you think?