Making Orange County Bike-Friendly
By Shawn Dell Joyce
Bicycling is the lowest carbon-producing form of transportation (along with walking) that gives you exercise and a great view at the same time. Many larger cities are actively encouraging cycling as it helps alleviate traffic congestion and increases foot traffic in downtowns.
Using a code known as the “Five E’s,” the League of American Bicyclists rates bike friendly communities on such matters as Engineering, Education, Encouragement, Enforcement, and Evaluation & Planning. A community must demonstrate achievements in each of these five categories in order to be considered for recognition.
–For Engineering, a community needs to design a bicycle master plan using well-designed bike lanes and multi-use paths to accommodate cyclists on public roads, The community also must provide bike racks for secure parking.
–Education includes teaching cyclists of all ages how to ride safely in any area from multi-use paths to congested city streets as well as instructing motorists how to share the road safely with cyclists.
–Encouragement means a community promotes and encourages cycling through events such as “Bike Month” and “Bike to Work Week.” It also should produce local bike maps, route-finding signage, community bike rides, commuter incentive programs, and initiating a “Safe Routes to School” program.
–Enforcing laws that encourage safer cycling and road-sharing to help create a bike-friendly environment in the community.
–Evaluation and planning is simply determining ways to make cycling safer, and setting benchmarks to gauge success. Here the community is judged on its systems for rating current programs and on its future plans.
As more and more local residents park their cars and put on their bike helmets, it’s time for municipalities to create safer shared roads and employ other of the 5 E’s. As it stands, there are no 5 E communities in Orange County, but some municipalities, including Montgomery, are working on implementing parts of the program.
Shawn Dell Joyce is the director of the Wallkill River School in Montgomery. www.WallkillRiverSchool.com.