AUBURN, Ala. — The city of Auburn can claim a significant distinction no other city in Alabama can. The League of American Bicyclists renewed the city’s bronze level bicycle friendly community designation. The designation is issued every four years. Auburn first earned the bronze level bike friendliness distinction in 2000. Auburn traffic engineer and bicycling coordinator Brandy Ezelle says while only two-percent of the city’s population commute on bikes, the culture is growing quickly.
“There’s so many different aspects of it, from recreational trails at Chewacla State Park, to a commute in the morning to just a race,” Ezelle said.
Over the past few years, the city has poured a variety of financial and educational investments into Auburn’s biking community in an effort to raise the quality of life for residents, students and tourists, as well as gear the city for growth.
Coach Bill Perry just lead the Auburn High School Mountain Biking team to a state championship. He says popularity is heightening among kids, and the feeling is contagious.
“[We’re] watching the parents show up, not only with their kids riding their bikes, but the parents later on are riding on bikes as well,” Perry said.
Perry grew up in Auburn. He says the city is taking strides like never before in order to ensure a brand new culture when it comes to accepting that more bikes will soon hit the road.
“We want the kids not only to be out on mountain bikes, but to be able to travel throughout the city and be safe,” Perry explained.
Ezelle tells News 3 the city is working to improve bike friendliness and earn a silver distinction in the future. City leaders are working with the Lee-Russell council of government on a plan that will be adopted in early 2017.
“I think those are the designations that help make Auburn a sought after place to live,” Auburn Mayor Bill Ham said.
Ham sees a potential boom in the local tourism industry because of bikes. The mayor referenced the courting of international stakeholders and several projects that would change the landscape of biking in Auburn.
Three other Alabama cities, including Opelika, got an honorable mention for their bicycle friendliness. As News 3 previously reported, Auburn University is the first school in the state to be declared a bicycle friendly university.