According to the League of American Bicyclists, “National Bike Month is a chance to showcase the many benefits of bicycling – and encourage more folks to giving biking a try . . . Whether you bike to work or school; ride to save money or time; pump those pedals to preserve your health or the environment; or simply to explore your community, National Bike Month is an opportunity to celebrate the unique power of the bicycle and the many reasons we ride.”
National Bike Month is special this year in Irvine: the League of American Bicyclists has recognized Irvine as a “Silver” Bicycle Friendly Community and the most bicycle-friendly city in Southern California. Only three California cities with populations of 50,000 or more were rated higher than Irvine, all in Northern California.
Each year, the League evaluates all 50 states, as well as numerous cities, businesses, and universities, for the extent to which they have made “bicycling a real transportation and recreation option for all people.” The Bicycle Friendly Community Award is for a three-year period and comes in five levels: Diamond, Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze, measured by categories such as bike ridership, bicycle friendly laws and ordinances, availability of bike lanes, and how often bicycling classes are offered. According to the League, “A community recognized by the League as Bicycle Friendly welcomes bicyclists by providing safe accommodation for cycling and encouraging people to bike for transportation and recreation.”
In its previous assessment in 2009, Irvine received a “Bronze” award, which means that the League believes that Irvine has made significant progress in bicycle friendliness. One reason for Irvine being perceived as more bicycle friendly is the amendment and updating of Irvine’s Bicycle Transportation Plan. The plan is a detailed, 260-page guiding document for the development and maintenance of a bicycle infrastructure network in Irvine that is safe, efficient, and enjoyable, and includes plans for additional on-street bicycle lanes and off-street bikeways and bicycle trails in the near future.
In addition, Irvine just undertook a major survey to better understand how residents, employees and visitors walk, bike or otherwise get around Irvine. The goal is to use this information to support, encourage, and improve the ways we can get around in Irvine, including walking and biking.
As I’ve noted before on this blog, Irvine is indeed a wonderful city for biking, whether for commuting, exercising, or just enjoying the outdoors. We currently have 301 miles of on-street bike lanes and 54 miles of off-street bikeways. Our bicycle trails are some of the most beautiful, and peaceful, places in Irvine. My own local neighborhood favorite is the Hicks Canyon Bicycle Trail. There is also the Woodbridge Trail, the Walnut Trail, the Jeffrey Open Space Trail, the Sand Canyon/Quail Hill Loop Trail, the Back Bay Loop Trail, the West Irvine Trail/Peters Canyon Bikeway, the Shady Canyon Loop Trail, and Peters Canyon Wash Trail.
The page also provides important bicycle safety tips and information. As part of our celebration of National Bike Month, the City of Irvine, in collaboration with the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA), is stressing the need for safe and smart biking, and for special attention to bike safety by youth, adults, and automobile drivers. We also encourage taking the low-cost cyclist education classes and urban cycling workshops offered by the Orange County Bicycle Coalition.
So for this year’s National Bike Month, let’s celebrate our Silver Award from the League of American Bicyclists as the most bicycle-friendly city in Southern California!
And as an Irvine Community Services Commissioner – and even more as an Irvine mom who enjoys riding our city’s bicycle trails with her teen-age son – Let me say: “Happy National Bike Month, Irvine!”