Columbus has become the seventh Georgia city to be designated as a Bronze Level Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists, the city announced today.
At a ceremony held beside the bike shop on the Fall Line Trace on Manchester Expressway, several city leaders spoke to members of the cycling community who had gathered for the announcement.
Mayor Teresa Tomlinson said the designation is the result of hard work and investment by the city, the private sector and the cycling public.
“This is a huge deal,” Tomlinson said. “We’ve been trying to get this for five, six or seven years now.”
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Tomlinson said city leadership had originally wanted to become the state’s only silver level bicycle friendly community, but will have to settle for bronze, for now.
“Apparently they don’t allow you to jump past bronze to silver, I found out,” Tomlinson said. “But we have now got this milestone behind us and we’re going to push forward.”
City Planning Director Rick Jones said the considerable investment that the city has put into public amenities like the Fall Line Trace, the Riverwalk and more and more bike lanes throughout the city helped earn the city the distinction.
“We put together the Alternative Transportation Study that identified where the needs were and how we could get to those points of inter-connectivity in this community,” Jones said. “We’re no longer looking at just dealing with cars and trucks. We’re trying to accommodate and make sure that we have all forms of transportation in this community addressed.”
Jones pointed out that in addition to the other amenities he mentioned, the city just formally broke ground on a new rails-to-trails project akin to the Fall Line Trace, this one in South Columbus. The city also has been awarded a Knight Foundation grant to help finance an improved alternative transportation grid that will help connect midtown and downtown Columbus.
Tomlinson said one of the benefits of the designation is that people and companies looking at Columbus as a potential home will know that the community is dedicated to the needs of cyclists and pedestrians, as well as other forms of transportation.
“It’s going to become part of our lives. That’s just the future of American cities and it’s certainly the future of this city,” Tomlinson said. “Any competitive city for business prospects, for professional prospects, for families, all the things that make a city vibrant, are going to have to have a complete transportation transect.”
The League of American Bicyclists is a Washington, D.C.-based organization whose program “Bicycle Friendly America,” promotes cycling and infrastructure and policy that enhance it. The organization will provide tools and hands-on help for cities to become bicycle friendly.