Starting in early 2015, Bike Santa Cruz County pulled together a small group of volunteers with two goals: to reapply for the League of American Bicyclists’ Bicycle Friendly Community award for the City of Santa Cruz, and to aim for a Gold-level ranking. Santa Cruz was named a Silver-level Bicycle Friendly Community in 2008, but the award expired in 2012 and had not been renewed. Throughout the year, the volunteers pulled together data to answer 111 questions about bicycling in Santa Cruz, with information on education, encouragement, engineering, evaluation and planning, and enforcement. In November, their efforts paid off with a Gold ranking for the City of Santa Cruz.
The Bicycle Friendly Communities program is managed by the League of American Bicyclists, which ranks thousands of communities, universities and businesses in all 50 states. Santa Cruz is now one of only four Gold-level communities in California, and 24 nationwide. San Francisco, Palo Alto, and San Luis Obispo have all received a Gold ranking, and Davis is the only city in California to receive Platinum, which is the highest ranking.
Interestingly, Santa Cruz ranked lower in many categories than other Gold-level communities. Our ranking was largely based on our high rate of bike commuting. According to Census data, 9.5% of Santa Cruz residents biked to work from 2008–12. That’s the second highest rate in the state, and is higher than many bike-friendly cities nationwide.
The League provided recommendations to make our city even more bike-friendly. Read their full list of recommendations here.
Key recommendations include:
• Develop a system of bicycle boulevards, utilizing quiet neighborhood streets, to create a welcoming environment for cyclists of all ages and skill levels.
• Continue to increase the amount of high-quality bike parking throughout the city.
• Continue to update the 2008 Bicycle Plan, and ensure that there is dedicated funding for implementation.
• Address bike theft through increased secure bike parking, bike bait programs, and public education on how to prevent theft.
Contact Amelia at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to help with Bike Friendly Community applications for Watsonville, Capitola or Scotts Valley.