Sommer Roefaro, a public lands transportation scholar with the Paul S. Sarbanes Transit in Parks Technical Assistance Center, has been in Moab studying transportation connections to public lands. The center is sponsored by the Federal Transit Administration of the U.S. Department of Transportation in partnership with a wide variety of other federal agencies. The scholar program is also available to many local and state governments.
As part of her work in Moab, Roefaro has been working with members of the Moab city staff, including Moab City Community Development Director David Olsen and Moab Planning Director Jeff Reinhart, to complete the lengthy application for bicycle friendly community status. The Moab City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to give Roefaro permission to submit the application on behalf of the city.
Roefaro said bicycle friendly communities “welcome cyclists by providing safe accommodations and encouraging people to bike for transportation and recreation.” She said the program also helps cities focus investments on bike programs, as well as creating more opportunities for cycling.
Roefaro said that about half of the communities that apply for the designation actually receive it. She said that there are currently more than 250 communities in the country that have received the designation, including Durango, Park City, and Salt Lake City. A wide range of cities are included on the list, with populations ranging from 1,051 people in University Heights, Iowa, to more than 8 million in New York City.
“Bicycle friendly communities are always on the short list of best places to live and work,” Roefaro said during the Feb. 12 council meeting. The designation also shows the community’s commitment to bicycling as a way to help decrease problems like traffic congestion and obesity, she said.
“It’s a good way to ride out the recession,” she said, regarding the money that can be saved by riding a bicycle instead of driving.
To be named a bicycle friendly community, cities and towns are judged by several categories that the League of American Bicyclists refers to as the “five E’s” – engineering, education, encouragement, enforcement, and evaluation and planning. To be considered for an award “a community must demonstrate achievements in each of the five categories,” according to the league’s website.
Olsen said the hope is to submit the application on behalf of both Moab and Grand County.
“Trail Mix and [Moab Trails Alliance], the other organizations that really push trails, we felt that a county-wide application would earn more points,” Olsen said. “It’s better if we both work together on it.”
Council member Kyle Bailey praised the concept.
“I think it would be a great thing,” he said, after making the motion to apply for the status. “I feel we already are [a bicycle friendly community], so let’s go for it.”
Before submitting the application, Roefaro will present the information to the Grand County Council, which will also be asked to consider the proposal.