Columbia--first official 'Bicycle Friendly Community' in Missouri

Robert Johnson of PedNet has an article in the Columbia Tribune this week that outlines what Columbia has done to become the first officially designated Bicycle Friendly Community in Missouri:
In early May we received word from the League of American Bicyclists that Columbia is a “silver” level bicycle friendly community.

The League of American Bicyclists started the Bicycle Friendly Community Program in 1995 as a way to recognize communities for their hard work in this field. The program also allows people considering moving to judge communities’ openness to living car-light or even car-free.
Johnson discusses what Columbia is doing for each of the "5 E's"--Encouragement, Education, Enforcement, Engineering, and Evaluation. Here are some of the highlights:
Encouragement: Columbia has many programs that encourage people to bicycle for transportation. The biggest program is our Bike, Walk & Wheel Week that Mayor Darwin Hindman started eight years ago. The 2009 edition just ended with more 5,000 Columbia residents registered this year. . . .

Education: Columbia has one of the largest bicycle-education programs in the United States. In the past 18 months, approximately 4,000 Columbia residents received training through the GetAbout Columbia project and through courses offered by the PedNet Coalition. . . .

Enforcement: The Columbia Police Department has recognized the enormous increase in bicycle traffic and responded. . . .

Evaluation: The GetAbout Columbia project commissioned two surveys of active transportation use in Columbia. One of them involves physical counts of bicyclists and pedestrians at intersections, and the other involved telephone surveys. Both show there were approximately 2½ times the amount of bicyclists in 2008 than in 2007. That’s right, 2 ½ times more bicyclists in 2008 than in 2007.

Silver level designation is a big deal for Columbia. Of the four levels of awards — bronze, silver, gold and platinum — there are currently only 67 communities in the United States at the bronze level, 23 awarded the silver, nine awarded the gold and just three awarded the platinum designation.
Read the rest of Johnson's article here.

Several other Missouri communities are currently working towards Bicycle Friendly Community status--including St. Louis, Springfield, Kansas City, and others.

Within a couple of years we may have many designated Bicycle Friendly Communities in Missouri.

If you are working to help your community become friendly for bicycling, consider working to get the community on board with become a Bicycle Friendly Community. The program is comprehensive but also very achievable, even for cities that are smaller and have fewer resources.

MoBikeFed's Vision is to have many Bicycle Friendly Communities across Missouri, to have at least half of Missouri communities working towards Bicycle Friendly Community status, and to have Missouri as a whole become a platinum-level Bicycle Friendly State.