2013-11-21 / Around Town

City Gets Bike Friendly Status

By Tom Shevlin

(Photos by Tom Shevlin) (Photos by Tom Shevlin) It’s official.

Newport has been named Rhode Island’s first bicycle-friendly community.

Representatives from the League of American Bicyclists announced the designation during a ceremony at City Hall on Wednesday, Nov. 20.

Newport Mayor Henry F. Winthrop presided over the occasion, which featured remarks from cyclists and non-cyclists.

For the non-cyclists in the crowd, Bike Newport board member Allison McNally perhaps said it best. “Cyclists,” she said, “are more than people just clad in Lycra.”

And having a bike-friendly community is good not only for cyclists, but also, she said, for pedestrians and motorists. That’s the point of the bike-friendly designation: to encourage more people to get into the habit of using their bikes to get around town, and for introducing cycling as a pastime to people in a safe and responsible way.

After the ceremony, about three dozen cyclists took to the roads in a celebratory lap around downtown Newport. Leading the way was Bari George, whose Bike Newport group, working in concert with the city, petitioned the league to secure the bike-friendly designation.

As Winthrop noted, the honor is particularly meaningful, as Newport served as the first home for the League of American Bicyclists. Today the organization has grown into the nation’s leading bike advocacy group.

Proponents hope that the designation will help encourage cycling as a tourist draw and alleviate traffic congestion during the summer months.

Also in attendance at the ceremony were Second Ward Councilor Justin S. McLaughlin and state Reps. Peter Martin and Marvin Abney.

Highway signs noting the city’s new designation are expected to be placed around the city in the coming weeks.

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