Not many communities throughout the United States can call themselves a Gold Bicycle Friendly Community. But after a rigorous application process led by the RPC, the City of Urbana is once again being acknowledged for its service to the bicycle mode of transportation.
The League of American Bicyclists recognized Urbana with the award in June, making it part of a select group of communities nationwide to attain this status. Urbana is one of only 36 Gold Bicycle Friendly Communities in the United States, and the only one in Illinois. Urbana joins a total of 506 Bicycle Friendly Communities of various levels from across the country that are transforming the American landscape.
The application process to update the Bicycle Friendly Community status was difficult and time-consuming. The City utilized the RPC to lead the effort for the 2023 application. City officials thanked the RPC staff who worked tirelessly to help Urbana achieve Gold-level status for 2023 through 2027, including planner Gabe Lewis.
“We are happy to continue to be recognized as a Gold Bicycle Friendly Community here at the City of Urbana,” said City Engineer John Zeman. “In the coming years, we intend to emphasize bicycle network improvements and programs that will benefit residents who use a bicycle as a main mode of transportation.” An example of this was the Bike Light Distribution and Bike Maintenance & Repair Station that took place at the MLK Jettie Rhodes Neighborhood Day celebration on June 24 at Dr. King Park.
“The application asks many questions about the bicycling efforts in Urbana over the last five years regarding planning, engineering, and programming,” said Lewis. “The RPC has been involved in several of these efforts, and it is important to both the RPC and the City that people have safe, affordable, and sustainable methods of traveling around the community.
“Bicycling was also an escape for many during the COVID-19 shutdowns, which benefited individual physical and mental health,” Lewis points out. “It is impressive to step back and assess how much work has been done by several community partners over the last five years despite the COVID-19 pandemic, and also impressive to see the dedication by the City and its partners to sustain its Gold Bicycle Friendly Community status.”
The League of American Bicyclists’ Bicycle Friendly America (BFA) program has been setting the standard for how places build and benchmark progress toward better bicycling for more than 25 years, receiving over 2,100 applications for new awards and renewals from over 860 unique communities to date.