ORLANDO — For years now, Mayor Buddy Dyer has been encouraging residents to get out of their cars and explore the city in other ways, such as riding the SunRail trains, taking a Lynx bus, or taking advantage of the city’s growing number of bicycle trails.
For bicyclists, the city’s bicycle network is extensive, offering 45 miles of off-street trails, 50+ miles of signed routes and a massive 265+ miles of bicycle lanes. The city has long considered this a major asset for both commuters and recreational riders.
Now, a national organization that promotes bicycling heartily agrees.
On Feb. 8, the League of American Bicyclists recognized the City of Orlando for its investment in a superior biking infrastructure. That recognition came with a Gold Bicycle Friendly Business award.
What is a Gold Bicycle Friendly Business Award?
The award is given to businesses and municipal governments that contribute to the League’s main goal, to promote a more Bicycle Friendly America. The League represents bicyclists across the nation, uniting them in a mission and movement to create safer roads and healthier lifestyles by promoting bicycling.
Orlando got recognized for its investments in biking infrastructure and amenities at Orlando City Hall, which includes:
- Safe bike parking
- Bike repair stations
- Bike safety training opportunities
- The city’s ongoing bike share program
- Incentives such as bike commuter benefits.
Mayor Dyer welcomed the award and the recognition, saying it helps promote the city’s effort to make Orlando a world-class location for bicycling enthusiasts.
“Orlando has been hard at work transforming the City Beautiful into the City Bikeable — a world-class, economically vibrant, sustainable city with multi-modal transportation options for residents and visitors alike,” Dyer said. “The Bicycle Friendly Business program highlights the partnerships needed to make such a city a reality. We’re proud that Orlando can lead by example and delighted to be one of the hundreds of cities across the U.S. making infrastructure investments at the municipal level, supported by local businesses that welcome and celebrate their employees and patrons that arrive by bike.”
Tanya Wilder, director of the city’s Transportation Department, added that “Orlando is ready to ride and creating a solid mobility foundation for all users is paramount within our transportation department. Each business that becomes bike friendly brings us one ride closer to a network that is connected, accessible and innovative.”
The Transportation Department is working to make downtown Orlando more walkable and bike-friendly through widening sidewalks and a well-connected urban trail system. This year, Orlando is expected to complete portions of the Downtown Loop, an 8.5-mile trail through the greater downtown Orlando area that offers a car-free option for accessing shopping, dining, entertainment, parks and other services. The entire Loop is expected to be completed in summer 2025.
The City is also working with local businesses on this project, encouraging them to take advantage of tools and technical assistance from the League that will make their company more welcoming to locals who ride bicycles. That includes a recent push in the popular Milk District on Bumby Avenue.
The League took notice of that.
“This round of awardees features shining examples of current and aspiring Bicycle Friendly Businesses working in tandem to boost the number of places in their community where traveling by bike is not only possible but encouraged,” said Bill Nesper, the League’s executive director. “Orlando City Hall and the Milk District businesses highlighted recognize this and are putting in the work to make bicycling a real transportation and recreation option for all.”
Why is Bicycling Healthy for You?
The website Healthline notes that bicycling can improve your physical and mental health as a low impact aerobic exercise that varies in intensity. At a higher intensity level, it can promote weight management, strengthen your leg muscles, and is simple fun, a great activity for beginners.
It’s also ideal for people who have been leading sedentary lives and want to become more active.
As the City of Orlando noted, bicycling can also give residents quick parking options and a convenient way to get around.
To learn more about building a Bicycle Friendly America, visit www.bikeleague.org/BFA or https://www.orlando.gov/Initiatives/Bike-Friendly-Business-Certification.
Michael Freeman is an Orlando journalist, playwright, and author of the self-published book “Bloody Rabbit”. Contact him at Freelineorlando@gmail.com.