Park City, Snyderville Basin recognized for bicycle friendliness
Park City sure figured out how to celebrate National Bike Month with a bang.
On May 14, the city and Snyderville Basin were named a silver-level bicycle-friendly community (BFC) by the League of American Bicyclists. A Bicycle Friendly Community welcomes cyclists by providing safe accommodation for cycling and encouraging people to bike for transportation and recreation.
Park City was originally designated a bronze-level bicycle friendly community in 2009. Heinrich Deters, trails and open-space project manager for Park City Municipal, said the move to silver is a big step forward.
"The city and the basin, as well as the special recreation district, have pointed people a little bit more toward biking and trails," he said. "The city has always had trail people, and it’s more of a concrete position now.
"A lot of it has to do with money and projects, but a lot of it is awareness and education. We have a little bit more language and transportation in our master plans now. It’s not just about the cars, it’s about the bikes."
Deters said the city passed a walking-biking infrastructure bond in 2007 and expanded its reach with online safety evaluations and connectivity with the community. The bronze-to-silver award featured a three-year certification process, and Deters said if the city and basin hope to achieve that next step, they’ll have to wait five years to prove worthy enough.
"We’re hoping for gold next time around," he said.
According to a press release, the BFC program provides a roadmap to building a bicycle friendly community and the application itself has become a rigorous and an educational tool in itself. Since its inception, more then 500 distinct communities have applied and the four levels of the award — platinum, gold, silver and bronze — provide a clear incentive for communities to continuously improve.
Michael Watson, a Parkite since 1978 and a dirt-and-road cycling guide at White Pine Touring as well as a League Cycling Instructor, said the move to silver is a major step toward Park City becoming one of the preeminent bike-friendly communities in the country.
"(The League of American Cyclists) has been around since 1898, since buggy whips were the things we were dodging," he said. "We’ve now been elevated to silver level because of recently-installed bike lanes on Bonanza Drive, as well as the wealth of other bike-friendly advocates teaming up together such as Park City Municipal, the Mountain Trails Foundation, White Pine Touring as well as the basin.
"Bike friendliness is good for our community, as well as the economy. I’m hoping we could be a role model for the country, urban areas and suburban areas."
While Park City’s popularity with mountain-biking trails is growing — case in point, the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) naming the area the first gold-level riding center in the world — to continue progressing toward the gold standard with the League of American Cyclists, the focus must be on cycling on the pavement, Watson said.
"One major thing Park City needs to do to elevate bike-friendly community status is we need to be more known with asphalt bike riding," he said.
"We are not surprised that this was the largest number of new and renewing applicants that we’ve ever had," said League President Andy Clarke in a press release. "The popularity of this program is clear evidence that investment in bicycling is a major catalyst in creating the kind of vibrant communities people want to live, work and visit. Park City recognizes the simple steps to make bicycling safe and comfortable pay huge dividends in civic, community and economic development."
Becca Gerber, a first-term member of the Park City Council who is seen as bringing a younger person’s perspective to the Marsac Building, will seek reelection this year.