Every year, The League of American Bicyclists reviews a large number of applications and publishes their list of Bicycle Friendly Communities, Businesses, and Universities.
This year, Florida has 29 communities on the list.
In order to be considered for one of these awards, a community must fill out an application and submit it to The League of American Bicyclists.
There are five key criteria that are used to assess how bicycle friendly a community is:
- Engineering – The community must be designed with cyclists in mind, which includes things like bike lanes, bike paths, and bike parking.
- Education – The community must have bicycle education programs in place for both children and adults.
- Encouragement – The community must encourage bicycling through events like a Bike Month or Bike to Work Day.
- Enforcement – There must be local laws in place to protect bicyclists.
- Evaluation/Planning – There needs to be a committee or agency dedicated to the bicycle community.
What all of that basically boils down to is the idea that a Bicycle Friendly Community is a community that fosters an environment where bicycling is a safe and functional way of life in that community.
Let’s take a look at a few of the Florida communities that have been deemed Bicycle Friendly Communities.
It should be no surprise that the country’s largest master-planned retirement community also happens to be a Bicycle Friendly Community. Everything about The Villages is focused on enabling and enhancing relaxing retirement activities, and bicycling is one of the most popular of those activities. Their community profile notes that a full 100% of the arterial streets in The Villages are accompanied by dedicated bicycle facilities.
The college town atmosphere of this community makes bicycling an obvious choice for the preferred method of transportation, hence there are plenty of bike paths throughout the town and surrounding areas. There are also a number of bicycle shops and clubs in the area. Gator Cycle in Gainesville was recognized with the Gold Award as a Bicycle Friendly Business.
Because of it’s small town atmosphere, biking is one of the most popular forms of recreation and transportation on Sanibel Island. Because the island is small and contains everything you might need, your bicycle can be not only your preferred, but your ONLY method of transportation. Many locals here are known to ride their bikes daily.
With 14 miles of Gulf Coast beaches, Venice is the beach cruising bicycle capital of Florida. Whether you are bicycling on the beach, alongside the beach, or heading downtown, you will not be the only cyclist out and about in Venice. There are also quite a few bicycle clubs that meet regularly in the area.
Other places on the list include:
Amelia Island/Fernandina Beach, Boca Raton, Broward County, Cape Coral, Clermont, Doral, Indian River County, Inverness, Key Biscayne, Lakeland, Miami, Miami Beach, Miami-Dade County, Miami Shores, Naples, Orlando, Pinellas County, South Lake County, South Miami, Sunrise, St. Petersburg, Tallahassee, Tampa, Weston, Winter Park
There is obviously no shortage of Bicycle Friendly Communities throughout the state of Florida, and many of those communities just happen to be the same communities that many Baby Boomers are targeting as preferred retirement destinations.
If staying active through bike riding is important to you, then you really can’t go wrong with any of these popular communities.