Bike friendly bronze certification

The League of American Bicyclists, a nonprofit membership organization of cycling advocates and enthusiasts, has been promoting a bicycle-friendly America since 1880.

Last month, Verona became one of its newest members.

Verona is now one of 488 other communities across the country that are members of the League’s Bicycle Friendly Community program.

“The City of Verona joins 2019’s 53 new and renewing Bicycle Friendly Communities as part of a movement towards a more vibrant, healthy, sustainable and connected places,” said Bill Nesper, Executive Director at the League of American Bicyclists. “We’re proud that the City of Verona and communities like it are embracing bicycling.”

While many of its neighboring communities have been members for years, including Fitchburg and Madison, this was Verona’s first time applying.

The league awards cities with one of five classifications based on their level of bicycle-friendliness: bronze, silver, gold, platinum and diamond. For its first year applying, Verona received a bronze certification.

If a city fails to meet minimum benchmarks, it is provided with feedback on how to improve and awarded an honorable mention.

Regardless if an applicant ranks or not, the league provides suggestions and metrics called the ‘Building Blocks of a Bicycle Friendly Community’ for improving bicycling conditions via a detailed report card. Communities that implement these best practices can re-apply for a new designation every four years.

The Bicycle Friendly Community program was founded in 1995. Since then, there have been over 1500 community applications processed by the League’s staff. In addition to the currently 488 recognized Bicycle Friendly Communities, there are nearly 100 honorable mention communities.

Some recent improvements noted in the application submitted in August by Katherine Holt, Verona’s community development specialist, included the newly completed bicycle paths along South Main Street from Whalen Road to Locust Drive and a path on the recently opened County Highway M.

Holt also noted in the application the Verona Police Department continues to hold their bike safety event in June and Sugar Creek Elementary School continues to have a bicycle education program to promote a strong bicycle community.

She also drew attention in the application to the Books on Bikes program sponsored by the library where librarians bike to parks or events and hands out books to anyone along the route.

Holt pointed out there are two bicycle shops, Rocket Bicycle Studio and Atkins Bicycle Shoppe, located in the city limits and that Verona is on the Ironman bicycle loop, which comes through the city every year.

In June this year, the city encouraged its employees to bike to work for a week as part of the National Bike to Work Week initiative. There were several employees who participated, which was the first time for the city. Several local businesses offered discounts to community members who biked to their business during that week.

In October, the Verona Area School District hosted its first ever bike to school week. Holt said the schools already have a large population of students in all grades who bike to school.

Overall, the league ranks Wisconsin 29th out of the 50 U.S. states for bike-friendliness. Twenty Wisconsin communities have been designated as bike-friendly, all in the silver or bronze categories, except for Madison which currently is designated as platinum. Wisconsin has no gold or diamond communities at this time.

Contact Neal Patten, Verona Community Reporter at neal.patten@wcinet.com.