Local Cities Seek Bicycle Friendly Status

bike friendly conmunityBike/Walk Central Florida has received a $27,000 grant from the Winter Park Health Foundation (WPHF) to help Winter Park and Maitland develop and implement their plans to obtain a Bicycle Friendly Community (BFC) designation from the League of American Bicyclists (LAB). The BFC application process helps a community evaluate how it encourages people to bike for transportation and recreation through engineering, education, encouragement, enforcement, and evaluation.

Bike/Walk Central Florida, with assistance from HDR Engineering, Inc., a local planning firm, will work with the volunteer and staff leadership in Winter Park and Maitland to help them prepare applications to the BFC program. The effort will be overseen and directed by volunteer citizen support groups including, Winter Park’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, Maitland’s Parks & Recreation Advisory Board, and the Healthy Maitland/Winter Park Teams of Healthy Central Florida.

“The effort is regional”, said Amanda Day, Project Director for Bike/Walk Central Florida.  “The City of Orlando already has a bronze designation and its staff members are committed to working together on this.”

Winter Park and Maitland staff members have made a decision not to submit their applications until the summer of 2015 because they are using the application process as an opportunity to update their plans and use the tools to guide their decision-making and their work.  The Bicycle Friendly America (BFA) program provides a toolkit of projects, policies, programs and plans designed to make biking better and a roadmap for improving conditions for bicycling and the direct assistance to make it happen.

The applications are taking place at a time when interest in bicycle commuting is soaring.  An important nationwide study on Bicycle Commuting, developed by the LAB, was released on September 29, 2014. According to that report, nationwide, bicycle commuting has increased 62% since 2000, and Florida has experienced a 59% increase in bicycle commuting since 2005.

But still, no Florida city, even with the state’s favorable weather, is in the Top 25 Cities for bicycle commuting.  According to LAB staff, because bicycling and walking is perceived as dangerous, people avoid it.

MetroPlan Orlando data shows that in Winter Park and Maitland, from 2006 to 2012, there have been 244 reported cyclists and pedestrian crashes (injury + fatalities) and of these, 101 were cyclists.