2013-10-17 / News Briefs

Newport Named Bike-Friendly Community

By Tom Shevlin

After years of sustained efforts to make Aquidneck Island a safer place to ride, Newport has been named the first "Bicycle Friendly Community" in the state.

The designation, which comes from the League of American Bicyclists, is being heralded as a watershed moment for the cycling community and an affirmation of recent efforts to secure recognition as a leader in the bike-first community.

“Newport is playing a critical role in creating a truly bicycle friendly America," said Andy Clarke, President of the League. "We know Newport’s investment in bicycling will be returned many times over in terms of health, environment, and quality of life."

According to the League, there are now 291 Bike Friendly Communities in 48 states across America. The Bronze BFC award recognizes Newport’s commitment to improving conditions for bicycling through investment in promotion, education, infrastructure and probicycling policies.

In May 2012, the Newport City Council recognized bicycle friendliness as a significant attraction to residents and tourists, and as a contributor to the well-being and overall quality of life of the community. The Council resolved to move forward with efforts to become a certified Bicycle Friendly Community in collaboration with Bike Newport, the city’s cycling advocacy group.

Recent improvements include bike lanes, shared lanes, improved signage, community classes, two bicycle education centers, bicycle friendly businesses, and distribution of night safety devices.

Nicole Wynand, the director of the Bicycle Friendly America program, added, “We were very impressed with how far Newport has come in such a short period of time. This is a great example of how a strong local advocacy group can make a real difference.”

“We’re very proud of this recognition and the promise that this designation holds,” said Bill Riccio, Newport’s Director of Public Services. “Bicycling can be a healthy transportation option in a small and historic city like Newport. We’re committed to continuing improvements so more people will choose bicycling.”

Bari George, Executive Director of Bike Newport, shared, “This award is a vote of confidence in what we are doing and how we are doing it. We still have a long way to go, but this is a fabulous first step and a welcome to the bike-friendly movement. We used to say that Newport was a ‘Bike Friendly Community Waiting to Happen’; now we can say we are ‘Bike Friendly.'"

The City and Bike Newport will bring together area stakeholders for announcements related to bike friendliness on a date in early November.

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