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City of Montgomery recognized nationally for initiative to enhance bicycle facilities

League of American Bicyclists lists Montgomery as one of two bicycle friendly communities in Ala.

Post Date:12/10/2015 1:41 PM
MONTGOMERY – The League of American Bicyclists’ Bicycle Friendly America program listed Montgomery, Ala. on the Fall 2015 Round Bicycle Friendly Community Awards and Honorable Mentions. 

"Receiving this distinction is a great start and a testament to the shared vision and combined efforts of our city and county employees, community leaders, volunteers and bicyclists who want to continue building a healthier, happier and more active Montgomery with amenities you won’t typically find in our state," Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange said. "It is also proof positive we’re peddling faster toward our goal of becoming the most bicycle friendly city in Alabama."

As one of only two cities in the state recognized by the League’s program, developing a cyclist friendly community has been a priority for the City of Montgomery's planning and engineering departments and the Strange administration. City of Montgomery Planning Director Robert Smith presented a case study at the 2014 and 2015 Alabama Bike Summits outlining the City’s path to building the best bicycle facilities in the state.

The path began with the Hall Street Bicycle Lanes project in one of Montgomery’s central neighborhoods where planners, engineers and public works crews converted a four-lane road into a two-lane, quarter-mile route shared by bicyclists and motorists connecting historic Centennial Hill, Alabama State University and Oak Park. It features extensive safety provisions, including solid white pavement markers to deflect cyclists from drop inlets. Next, the Maxwell Blvd Bike Path, Montgomery’s first single-use bicycle facility, connecting Maxwell Air Force Base to Wright Brothers Park, historic Cottage Hill, the community’s urban farm and the city’s revitalized downtown.

In 2013, a joint project between the city and county led to the creation of 148 miles of bicycle friendly roadway, including extensive facilities and bike lanes along Ray Thorington Road and Brown Springs Road from the Auburn University Montgomery campus to the Atlanta Highway. Nearby in one of Montgomery’s newest neighborhoods, Park Crossing, officials recently completed construction of bike lanes and a trail spanning more than two miles in length to connect schools to subdivisions.

“With more than 156 miles of bicycle infrastructure currently located throughout our city, we are only beginning to embrace the real potential to impact our overall quality of life," Strange said. "These types of projects help recruit new residents, businesses and industries, which is why we will continue investing in the infrastructure and facilities needed to make Montgomery the bicycle capital of Alabama.”

Public-private partnerships have played a pivotal part in the River Region’s rise in bicycle infrastructure. Community-led contributions complement city planning department projects, like new bike corrals, aid stations and racks – the product of an idea by Montgomery resident, Deana Acklin.

"As an avid cyclist who rides for fitness and as a commuter, I am very familiar with the rewards of cycling on a daily basis, and we have a large population of residents commuting by bicycle every day," Acklin said. "Biking brings people together, encourages discovery, spurs community engagement, reduces obesity rates, cuts parking congestion and increases mobility options, just to name a few benefits. My goal was to be able to give the community the bicycle parking options needed for daily commuters and those who just want to ride for a cup of coffee."

Envisioned by Acklin, installed by the City of Montgomery and funded by the Downtown Business Association's Gumption Fund, Montgomery Bicycle Club and Atlanta-based, nine new SARIS bicycle facilities ranging from bike racks to aid stations now span 10 locations across Montgomery.

A new trail, Lagoon Park Trail, was also recently completed in north Montgomery thanks to a team volunteers comprised of longtime residents and members of the Air Command and Staff College at Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base. They worked with city staff to begin the process of turning what was once an inaccessible and heavily forested portion of Lagoon Park into a hiking and biking trail and outdoor recreation area.

“Our goal was to make it easy and fun for our residents to walk or ride their bikes everyday – even on the way to school – to enhance our community and keep Montgomery moving,” City of Montgomery Health Czar Michael Briddell said. “And when the community comes together to change the way we get to work, school or the grocery store, then that leads to an enhanced quality of life.”

The cyclist community in the River Region can look forward to even more events and recreational routes coming soon to the area. The bicycle facilities are part of the Montgomery Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) bicycle and pedestrian plan adopted in July 2012 to connect the City’s existing bicycle facilities to desired destinations by adding 189 more miles within city limits. In addition, MPO announced plans to build more than 420 miles of bicycle facilities in its regional area.

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