It’s official. Conway has been named a Bicycle Friendly Community.
The decision came at the national meeting of the League of American Bicyclists on Sept. 14, but the Conway Advocates for Bicyclists (CAB) waited until Saturday at the Third Annual Conway Fall Classic to make the announcement.
Some 150 riders participated in the third-annual tour that benefited Interfaith Clinic and CAB.
Jim Bruce, president of CAB, said the bicycle friendly designation is one the city has worked on for years, with Mayor Tab Townsell leading the charge, believing the effort is "key to building a place people want to live, work and visit."
Efforts visible to the public recently have been the addition of share-the-road markings on city streets and added bike lanes in some areas. Grants from several agencies made the work possible.
With encouragement of CAB, the Bicycling Advisory Board (BAB) and the Safe Routes to School committee, the city entered into a rigorous application process, and this year was successful.
Townsell said the designation is the result of hard work by members of the Bicycling Advisory Board, including its chairman Peter Mehl.
"It is important for us to have a city where people are not required to have an automobile -- especially when gasoline is at $4 a gallon," Townsell said Saturday.
"In addition to quality of life issues -- biking, exercising, just getting around town safely -- there’s also an economic development component. We want to be a city where the employees of corporations, like Acxiom and HP, would want to live," Townsell said.
According to information from the League, "The BFC award recognizes a community’s commitment to improving conditions for bicycling through investment in bicycling promotion, education programs, infrastructure and pro-bicycling policies.
"The BFC program is revolutionizing the way communities evaluate their quality of life, sustainability and transportation networks, while allowing them to benchmark their progress and work toward improving their bicycle-friendliness."
In addition to the Bicycle Friendly Community announcement, CAB presented a plaque to the 2011 Bicycle Advocate of the Year, Eric Leamon, owner of The Ride.
In making the presentation, Bruce said that Leamon has organized or assisted with many bicycling events including the Soaring Wings Ranch Ride, Tour deToad, CAB’s Ride Civil, the bike repair booth at Toad Suck Daze and the progressive dinner ride during National Bicycle Month in May.
Leamon is a member of the city’s Bicycle Advisory Board and organizes a Bikes for Tykes program at Christmas.
His business, The Ride, a member of the National Bicycle Dealers Association, is recognized by the League of American Bicyclists as a bicycle-friendly business.
Townsell was the 2010 Advocate of the Year.
More information about Conway Advocates for Bicycling can be found at www.cycleconway.org
(Staff writer Becky Harris can be reached at email@example.com and 505-1234.)