PIQUA — Piqua’s actions to embrace bicycling and alternative means of transportation are officially being noticed by more than the people who enjoy using the various bike trails, paths, and lanes throughout the city. The League of American Bicyclists recently recognized Piqua as being a Bicycle Friendly Community, awarding Piqua with a bronze-level distinction.
“Winning a Bicycle Friendly Community designation shows a community’s dedication to creating safer and better places to ride your bike,” said Alex Doty, executive director of the League of American Bicyclists.
A Bicycle Friendly location is described as a place that welcomes bicyclists and makes bicycling safe, comfortable, and convenient for people of all ages and abilities.
“It’s a huge accomplishment for our community,” Piqua City Planner Chris Schmiesing said. “For us to submit an application … and achieving bronze designation right out the gate, that’s pretty good. We’re excited about what that means.”
The Bicycle Friendly Community program is voluntary. Communities interested in receiving recognition submit an application requesting consideration. After reviewing the application and visiting the community, the League of American Bicyclists offers feedback and suggestions as they continue with efforts to become a bicycle-friendly destination.
If the league decides the progress within the community is worthy of recognition, they offer an honorable mention or recognize the community with a bronze, silver, gold, platinum, or diamond Bicycle Friendly designation. There are currently no communities that have received a diamond-level distinction. Madison, Wis. is an example of a community recently distinguished with a platinum distinction, and Minneapolis, Minn. is an example of a community with a gold-level recognition.
Schmiesing noted, “The Bronze Bicycle Friendly Community designation from the League of American Bicyclists rightly recognizes the ongoing efforts by groups like Bike Piqua and others to cultivate safe cycling opportunities and a bicycle friendly culture in Piqua. I see the community continuing to improve in this area to perhaps one day receiving a Diamond designation from the League.”
“The Bike Piqua group is very excited about the bronze level designation,” Mike Gutmann of Positively Promoting Piqua and Bike Piqua said. “There are fewer than 20 communities in the state of Ohio that are bronze level, and it shows that Piqua is committed to be bicycle friendly, making it a safe place and an accessible place to bicycle around the community. And we’re going to work on our master plan to continue to upgrade to the next level.”
Schmiesing explained that the city has recognized “the market trends and the interests and the need to promote, facilitate, and accommodate healthy living styles.”
According to Schmiesing, in 2013, Piqua adopted a Complete Streets policy that is focused on making sure that when they look at public corridors, they make sure that those spaces are designed in such a way that they are accommodating everyone on the road, from motorists to bicyclists to pedestrians. Everyone’s needs get addressed rather than favoring one over the other.
By doing so, Schmiesing stated they are cultivating an environment that offers access to the kinds of amenities and healthy lifestyles people consider when thinking about where they want to live.
From there, Schmiesing stated that the Complete Streets policy received recognition from the Smart Growth America’s National Complete Streets Coalition as one of the top 10 complete streets policies in the U.S. in 2013.
“Pretty lofty recognition,” Schmiesing said. That then became the springboard for actions such as getting some bike lanes on the pavement, working with the school district to hold safe cycling workshops, and more.
“All those things that encourage folks … a fun and healthy alternative (to driving),” Schmiesing said. “We are making some inroads and doing the right thing.”
Reach reporter Sam Wildow at (937) 451-3336 or on Twitter @TheDailyCall