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Andy Clark, PBIC On-Site Coordinator and Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals Executive Director, recently took part in bicycle conferences in Florida and Indiana. This article features highlights from those meetings.

Statewide advocacy for bicycling and trails is alive and well. In both Florida and Indiana, active citizen groups are pressing hard for better bicycling conditions, and they are making headway. Both the Indiana Bicycle Coalition and the Florida Bicycle Association announced success in working with statewide recreation agencies to open state parks and trails to bicyclists, and in February more than 400 park and recreation professionals attended the Indiana Trails and Greenways conference. The Florida Greenways Coordinating Council and Florida Department of Environmental Protection have jointly prepared an ambitious plan for connecting communities with trails. http://www8.myflorida.com/communities/learn/trails/publications/execsumm.pdf


For more information about Florida and Indiana groups visit
Indiana Bicycle Coalition http://www.bicycleindiana.org
Florida Bicycle Association http://www.floridabicycle.org/
Hoosier Rail-trails http://www.indianatrails.org
Florida Rails to Trails Conservancy http://www.railtrails.org/FL


Great individual successes

Bob Lamb is a bicyclist who has been working with county leaders on development of a shared-route on-road bikeway system in LaPorte County, Ind. That doesn't sound too remarkable until you learn that in just 18 months, Bob initiated the routing, mapping, signing, and promotion of a 400-mile network of bike routes in this Northern Indiana county. Most agencies can take much longer to get that much done! The entire project will cost approximately $120,000 in direct costs, and Bob even managed to get a contribution of $28,000 from the Solid Waste agency on the strength of the bike route signs being made from recycled aluminum cans.


The Time is Now for Bicycling

The most striking similarity between the two conferences and the two States, was one strong common theme that emerged from numerous speakers and workshops. We are currently experiencing a unique set of circumstances that ought to make bicycling in this country explode with popularity - and we must somehow grab this opportunity with both hands.
  •  High gas prices are forcing a national debate on energy policy, and making people think about how and even if they travel by car…and that's with gas soaring to less than $2 per gallon!


  •  Congestion is getting noticeably worse in most metropolitan areas and commuters are spending countless hours stuck in pointless traffic jams…and most people still live within 5 miles of work!


  •  Obesity is a national epidemic with lack of physical activity now recognized as a leading contributor to more than 300,000 premature deaths every year…the public health community is all over the bicycling and walking issue.


  •  "We're a perfect match for almost any issue", according to one of the speakers in Indiana.
To take advantage of this unique convergence of opportunities, bicycling must overcome a series of common obstacles ranging from a general lack of respect for bicycling to popular misconceptions about bicycling and institutional neglect within transportation and other government agencies.

Ben Lytle, Chairman of Anthem, Inc. an Indiana-based health management company, speaking at the Indiana Bicycle Conference, urged the audience to "really sell bicycling, and not always in the obvious places." In particular, Lytle encouraged the bicycle community to:

  • sell bicycling to those who don't yet ride but who want to, or who want to ride more
  • dispel the myths that bicycling takes a lot of time and effort compared to "impact" sports
  • expose the real impact of running and other "impact" sports
  • promote the activity in mainstream places
  • target particular audiences who are predisposed to riding (e.g those wanting to get in better shape)
  • promote the activity as fun (rather than as an extreme sport)
  • take advantage of our strengths and successes (e.g. celebrate and highlight those communities that encourage bicycling and have created good facilities)
You can see Ben Lytle's powerpoint presentation by clicking here.


Conclusion

If we can't promote bicycling at a time of energy crisis, rising gas prices, worsening congestion, an obesity epidemic, and global warming…we'll never make real progress towards making Indiana, Florida or any other state in the nation a cycling Utopia.

States with Bicycle/Pedestrian Conferences In 2001

Alaska, September 13-14. Contact Robert.laurie@dot.state.ak.us
Washington, October 10-12. Visit www.bicyclealliance.org
Massachusetts, October 24-25. Contact josh.lehman@state.ma.us

In 2002

These states have annual or bi-annual bicycle and pedestrian conferences that are likely to happen in 2002

Iowa
Indiana
Illinois
Florida
Virginia
Wisconsin
Minnesota
New Hampshire
 

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