Pinellas is only the fifth county in Florida to receive the designation.
Today, Pinellas County joins 464 visionary communities from across the country with a Bronze Level Bicycle Friendly Community award from the League of American Bicyclists.
“The Bicycle Friendly Community award is an exciting recognition of the many opportunities that Pinellas offers bicyclists, from the Pinellas Trail loop to our Complete Streets,” said Whit Blanton, Forward Pinellas Executive Director. As the countywide land use and transportation planning agency, Forward Pinellas plans for the transportation needs of all users, including bicyclists. “Pinellas County is an attractive destination for bicyclists because of the short distances between thriving downtowns, essential retail and services, and the natural assets of the bay and beaches.”
“This award would not have been possible without collaborative work of multiple agencies, governments, and citizens,” Blanton added. “Along with our partners, we will continue working to make sure bicyclists can use our roads and trails safely with a Vision Zero action plan in the upcoming year, and this award is inspiration to continue striving for an even more bicycle friendly community.”
With the announcement of 61 new and renewing award recipients today, Pinellas County joins a leading group of communities in every state that are transforming the American landscape. As anyone reading headlines knows, some roadways in Pinellas County can be high risk places to ride a bicycle, but this award signifies both the potential for a safer community and the efforts that are already being made toward that goal. The award recognizes commitment to improving conditions for bicycling through investment in bicycling promotion, education programs, infrastructure and pro-bicycling policies. The City of St. Petersburg was also designated as a Silver Level Bicycle Friendly Community last year.
Becky Afonso, the executive director of the Florida Bicycle Association, is a Pinellas County resident as well as a bicycle advocate. She said that she sees the designation as a recognition of decades of work that have gone into bicycle infrastructure, starting with the Pinellas Trail.
“The League is right on track with that designation … (The trail) was developed to allow people to enjoy the corridor and to use connections that I think are eventually going to network the entire state,” she said. “With the development of the trail 25 years ago, the county has certainly been paying attention to bicyclists.”
The five levels of the award – diamond, platinum, gold, silver and bronze, plus an honorable mention category and a no designation level – provide a clear incentive for communities to continuously improve. The League of American Bicyclists provides feedback and guidance to every applicant community, regardless of award designation, with the goal of helping every community to improve. Awarded communities must renew their status every four years to ensure that they not only maintain existing efforts, but also keep up with changing technology, national safety standards, and community-driven best practices.
“We applaud these communities for making bicycling a safe and convenient option for transportation and recreation,” said Bill Nesper, Executive Director at the League of American Bicyclists. “We are encouraged by the growing number of leaders who see bicycling as a way to build more vibrant, healthy, sustainable and connected communities and be a part of the solution to many complex challenges faced at both the community and national levels.”
To learn more about the Bike Friendly Community program, visit bikeleague.org/community.
Bicycle Friendly Community is a service mark of the League of American Bicyclists and is used with permission.