FF applying to become bike-friendly communityPublished 11:07am Thursday, January 3, 2013
The Central Lakes Trail connects Fergus Falls to miles of cycling opportunities, but now Fergus Falls officials may soon make biking a little more friendly within the city as well.
Fergus Falls may become the sixth official “Bicycle Friendly Community” in Minnesota and the 216th nationwide.
“The purpose is to promote cycling as something that is safe and can help communities,” said local certified cycling instructor David Sanderson. “As a former physician, I see a lot of health benefits in cycling.”
Sanderson has been working closely with the project, and he said he hopes the city can have an application ready to send to the League of American Bicyclists by late February. It may be weeks or even months until results come back, but this is a good start.
The extensive application process digs deep into five basic criteria, known as the “five Es” – Engineering, Education, Encouragement, Enforcement and Evaluation.
Engineering refers to the structure of the cycling routes within the city. Each Bicycle Friendly Community must have a comprehensive and well-maintained cycling network. This might mean that the city will add bike lanes or designated routes through town for cyclists to follow.
Bicycle Friendly Communities also must have opportunities for cycling education. Instructional classes should be offered, and a “safe routes to school” program should be in place. Fergus Falls is in the process of getting these things in order.
The third E, encouragement, means there needs to be events and activities that make cycling visible in the community. A bicycle rodeo was held in the spring, and Sanderson said he hopes to make it an annual event.
Proper cycling enforcement is necessary in all Bicycle Friendly Communities, and police officers will need to be well educated on cycling laws.
Evaluation refers to the process of constantly looking at ways to modify and improve cycling in the community to create a better experience for riders.
The Fergus Falls City Council recently approved the application process to move forward, and Sanderson along with city officials and several others will work on the project.
“It has been shown in other communities that people look at things like this when they move to a community,” Sanderson said. “Those little things add up, and it helps to attract people. It really does make a difference.”