Hands down, I live in biking Mecca. From taking in the scenic overlooks from the view of my road bike, to getting lost in nature on all the different mountain bike trails that the area has to offer, Tahoe is truly a dream for a bicycle enthusiast. In the Sierra Region cycling of all sorts, from commuting to recreational, is growing. Once the snow melts the tires are rolling, calling city officials and planners to work towards fostering a safe cycling environment for their community members.
But despite being a Mecca for cycling, Tahoe isn’t necessarily the friendliest or most encouraging place to bike as a means of transportation. South Lake Tahoe faces many challenges due to the way the city was developed. There is little room for growth and bicycle infrastructure on streets such as Highway 50 (the main road that takes you through the city). Highway 50’s conditions are poor and the speed limit is high, with cars buzzing by trying to get to where they are going as fast as possible. This is a problem in a lot of communities with main roads lacking the bicycle infrastructure and design needed to promote safe bicycling. Highway 50 and other roads discourage potential bikers who don’t know safe back roads to get where they need to go, or the proper road cycling “skills” to get themselves there.
Without getting into the work that needs to be done to get South Lake Tahoe and other cities moving in a bike friendly direction, such as complete streets, there is another piece of the puzzle that needs to be considered: bicycle education. I was excited to learn about a national safe cycling initiative developed in Florida called Cycling Savvy. Cycling Savvy is a traffic-bicycling curriculum created by the Florida Bicycle Association, to teach cyclists the tools needed to bike safely on roads, understand how traffic flow works, and how best to pre-plan their routes in order to navigate their community's roadways. The curriculum not only helps break down barriers and fears for bicyclists, but also equips users with the tools needed to bike confidently.
What do you think are some the greatest “barriers to entry” for individuals choosing bicycling as a means of transit? What do you consider some of the biggest do’s and don’ts of bicycling in your community?
Credits: Images by Alex Riemondy. Data linked to sources.