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Thursday, October 18, 2012
Ada County Achieves "Silver" status as 'Bicycle Friendly'

Garden City – A strong and ongoing commitment to safety, education and facility expansion elevated Ada County to Silver-Level status as a Bicycle Friendly Community – a designation awarded by the League of American Bicyclists, ACHD announced Thursday.

ACHD is one of only two counties nationwide to hold the silver or gold status – the other being Jackson and Teton Canyon, Wyoming, according to the league. ACHD achieved Bronze-level status in 2004, becoming the first countywide entity to be included in a program that now incorporates 242 cities, counties and regions nationwide.

"This is wonderful news and confirmation of Ada County’s status as a great place to bike and ACHD’s role in promoting and expanding cycling opportunities," said ACHD President Rebecca Arnold, herself a bike rider. "We support riding for recreation and alternative transportation, which improves our air quality and decreases congestion on the roads."

The addition of three miles of on-street bike lanes, the creation of three miles of unpaved greenbelt, and the introduction of shared lane markings on six miles of roads and green bike lanes at intersections – innovations that increase driver and rider awareness and, therefore, safety – demonstrated the county’s commitment to cycling.
 
"We are excited that Ada County recognizes that simple steps to make biking safe and comfortable pay huge dividends in civic, community and economic development, said Andy Clark, president of the League of American Bicyclists. "Bicycling is more than a practical, cost-effective solution to many municipal challenges – it’s a way to make Ada County a place where people don’t just live and work, but thrive."

Since voters approved the Ada County Vehicle Registration Fees in 2008, ACHD has earmarked about $4 million a year for expanded bicycle and pedestrian facilities.

 "This reflects the great progress that’s been made to promote cycling in Ada County," said Carol McKee, an ACHD Commissioner who championed the successful fee request to voters. "This has always been a bicycle friendly 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 118 centerline miles of bike lanes, primarily in the form of lanes on new or expanded roads. The county also has 46 miles of bike routes, roads without bike lanes that are nonetheless comfortable for cyclists.

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," Arnold said.

Previously, ACHD was named by the League as a Bicycle Friendly Business, becoming one of the few government entities to hold 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.

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