MARQUETTE – Marquette has been awarded the bronze-level designation as a Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists.
Marquette was one of eight communities in Michigan to be recognized. Ann Arbor and Houghton each received the silver designation while Grand Rapids, Lansing, Portage, Midland and Traverse City also achieved the bronze level.
There are four award levels: platinum, gold, silver and bronze.
Michigan is No. 12 in the country in the Bicycle Friendly state rankings.
The Bicycle Friendly Community Program, according to the league, based in Washington, D.C., sets standards for what makes a good bicycle environment and culture, guides progress by acting as a road map for action and rewards persistence as communities respond to feedback.
Communities try to achieve the Bicycle Friendly Community status by detailing bicycle safety procedures, laws, the availability of mapping and route-finding information, clubs, events and other information.
Local bicycling events include the Marquette Bike Jam, the Mountain Bike Enduro and the Ore-to-Shore Mountain Bike Epic.
Pat Black, executive director of the Marquette County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the town offers bicycle-oriented amenities such as the bike bath, mountain bike trails and the Iron Ore Heritage Trail.
“There’s isn’t a lot of biking you can’t do here,” Black said.
Black said trails are being video-mapped for inclusion on the bureau’s website at www.travelmarquettemichigan.org.
“That’s going to take us to the next level about getting biking enthusiasts to come to this area,” she said.
Northern Michigan University senior Whitney Guillard, 22, is an avid bicyclist.
“I love Marquette,” Guillard said. “It’s a great town for biking. I very rarely drive my car to class.”
Bill Nesper, vice president of programs at the league, said the organization liked Marquette’s miles of pathways and its education of middle schoolers about bicycling.
There are several ways, though, the city could improve its designation, he said.
“One great way to get more people biking is to encourage more adults to go out and bike,” Nesper said.
That includes more activities and educational opportunities, although he pointed out 2.1 percent of Marquette’s adult population commute by bike, about four times the national average.
Nesper said another suggestion was to include the needs of bikers and walkers when the city resurfaces or restripes its streets.
A recently completed Third Street Corridor Sustainable Development Plan calls for bike lanes and corrals in the area.
Nesper said bike racks can go a long way for a community being bike-friendly – a recognition Marquette has obtained since 2010.
“It’s surprising what a simple solution that is,” he said.
Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is email@example.com