Garden City – A strong and ongoing commitment to safety, education and increased infrastructure helped Ada County sustain its status as a “Bicycle Friendly Community,” ACHD announced Tuesday.
“The award is presented only to communities with remarkable commitments to bicycling,” Bill Nesper, director of the Bicycle Friendly America Project for the League of American Bicyclists, wrote to ACHD. “Once again, accept our congratulations on your tremendous efforts to create a truly Bicycle Friendly Community.”
The designation, announced by the League, marks the third time the Ada County Highway District has received the award. ACHD retained its status as a “Bronze” level recipient, but District officials are confident ACHD’s continued support of cycling will make the community eligible for Silver level consideration in 2014.
“This reflects the great progress that’s been made to promote cycling in Ada County,” said Justin Lucas, ACHD’s bicycle coordinator and transportation planner. “This has always been a bicycle crazy town, and that enthusiasm has been matched by a real commitment to bike lanes, wider road shoulders and education.”
ACHD plans bicycle improvements for nearly all road projects, a policy that has more than doubled the miles of bikeways over the past decade. The county has more than 200 miles of bike lanes, and ACHD spends some $2 million annually on cycling facilities – primarily in the form of lanes on new or expanded roads.
Major recent improvements considered by the League included: the East ParkCenter Bridge and its new bike lanes and Greenbelt connections, new bike lanes on Ten Mile and Eagle roads and the completion and adoption of Roadways to Bikeways, a 50-year plan to improve cycling in the county. In addition, ACHD has distributed 10,000 copies of the Idaho Bicycling Street Smarts booklet, a joint education project with the Idaho Transportation Department, and regularly airs “Share the Road” public service announcements on local television stations.
ACHD plans to install more than 400 miles of bike lanes and 340 miles of signed bike routes – roads where cyclists and motorists can comfortably share the road – in coming years with a the goal of having all residents within a quarter mile of a bike facility.
“Ada County is a great place to cycle today, and we’re working to make it even better,” Lucas said. “There’s much more to come.”
First awarded the distinction in 2004, Ada County remains one of the few regions on the League’s Bicycle Friendly Community list, which has more than 150 cities. In Idaho, Coeur d’Alene and the Wood River Valley are also award winners, according to the league. More than 400 communities have sought the distinction.
The League of American Bicyclists promotes bicycling for fun, fitness and transportation and works through advocacy for a more bicycle friendly America. The League represents the interests of the nation’s 57 million cyclists. More information is available at www.bikeleague.org.