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Centre Region Pursuing Recognition as Bicycle-Friendly Community

on March 09, 2012 8:35 AM

Encouraged by a local advocacy group, Centre Region officials are seeking national recognition for the State College area's bicycle accessibility.

The Centre Region Council of Governments staff filed an application last month with the League of American Bicyclists. It pursues designation of the Centre Region -- defined by the State College Area School District boundaries -- as a Bicycle-Friendly Community, or BFC.

Regional transportation planner Trish Meek said the distinction is the bicycling equivalent of a Tree City USA honor. Local officials expect to learn by April whether the Centre Region has made the BFC cut.

COG's Executive Committee, made up of municipal elected officials, approved the application.

"It would provide some recognition for the activity that has occurred and what's being done -- or planned to occur -- in the future," Meek said Thursday.

The 17-page application, suggested by the independent Centre Region Bicycle Coalition, notes recent community investments in bicycling and upcoming improvements. (The former include a Gatesburg Road Extension shared-use path and planned bike-lane upgrades on Whitehall Road and University Drive; the latter, a State College bicycle-ambassador program.)

It also lists the number of local bicycle-parking spaces (9,478); local bike-path, shared-use-path and bike-route miles (more than 160); and other bicycle-related amenities and efforts.

Should the region receive the bicycle-friendly designation, Meek said, it could help promote the area among potential residents and businesses that value bicycle-friendliness.

"This could be something that someone would look at or evaluate," she said.

The League of American Bicyclists names new Bicycle-Friendly Communities twice a year, evaluating criteria from community education to anticipated amenities. The national organization touts the award as, in part, a way for communities to benchmark their alternative-transportation efforts and help sustain their momentum.

In the last round of honors, issued in the fall, the league granted 11 communities the BFC designation for the first time. Fourteen others maintained the distinction.

In the State College area, Videon Central, on Sandy Drive, recently became the first local business named a Bicycle-Friendly Business by the league. Penn State, too, is planning to apply this year for a similar designation from the league: Bicycle-Friendly University.

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