Workshop Kicks Off Local Effort to Designate Area Bicycle Friendly

Lisa bike workshop storyA workshop to launch an effort to help Winter Park, Maitland and Eatonville become designated Bicycle-Friendly communities by the League of American Bicyclists (LAB), has captured attention around the state and is blossoming into a regional effort.

“Imagine Central Florida as one of the first ‘Bike Friendly Regions,’” said Amanda Day, Executive Director of Bike/Walk Central Florida (BWCF).

The Winter Park Health Foundation (WPHF) in December approved a $27,000 grant to BWCF to help the Healthy Central Florida teams of Winter Park and Maitland develop and implement plans to obtain a Bicycle Friendly Community (BFC) designation from the LAB. The effort is being overseen and directed by volunteer citizen support groups including, Winter Park’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee and the HCF Winter Park and Winter Park Teams.

On February 18th, the two-day workshop program kicked off with participants taking a 28-mile bike ride from Orlando to Casselberry, taking SunRail, the Orlando Urban Trail and riding along challenging stretches including Lakemont Avenue and the “Brewers Curves” in Winter Park.  “As our region seeks to become more connected and bike-friendly, it was a great start to the effort and an opportunity to ask the League of American Bicyclists staff for input on our areas’ challenges,” said Ms. Day.

The ride was followed by a February 19th workshop at the Winter Park Farmer’s Market featuring Bill Nesper, LAB Vice President of Programs who was on hand to provide guidance on what it takes to build a better, bike friendly community and make riding safer and more enjoyable.

News of the local workshop spread throughout the region, and it attracted 60 local leaders representing Longwood, Casselberry, Orlando, Osceola County, Lake Mary and others. Key transportation organizations also attended, including representatives from the Florida Department of Transportation, MetroPlan Orlando, ReThink Your Commute, Orange County Public Schools and the statewide Florida Bicycle Association.

The group tackled tough questions surrounding ways to make our communities safer and more inviting for all riders – from age eight to eighty–and developed a list of priorities for the region and the cities of Casselberry, Maitland and Winter Park.

The workshop served as the first step for Winter Park and Maitland as they seek to begin the application process to become “bicycle-friendly communities” – an official designation from the LAB. Orlando currently holds a bronze designation from the LAB and is seeking to move to a higher level. The BWCF Board of Directors plans to follow up with the representatives from other communities to assess their interest in applying for the designation too.

In addition, BWCF is planning the development of a regional Family-Friendly Bicycle Route map.

To learn more, read the article and view video coverage from WKMG Local 6 here.  To see the LAB presentation from the workshop, click here.