1. Canals with Trails
We have a tremendous opportunity in Indian River County to create a network of interconnected biking and walking trails along the existing network of drainage canals. This trail network will provide recreation and and transportation options for people who want to walk or ride their bikes away from traffic. Indian River County has already developed detailed Greenway Plans for this project. We are working with local officials to implement those plans.
2. The Bike Rehab Project
There are many people in our community who depend on bikes for transportation. We want to make sure that everyone who needs a bike has one. We accept donated bikes from a variety of sources. Our volunteer team rehabs the bikes and delivers them to people who need them. In addition to providing rehabbed bikes, we also provide safety training, light sets and helmets.
Our partners on this project include: Orchid Island Bikes and Kayaks, Vero Cycling, Inc., the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office, United Against Poverty (UP), the Sebastian Police Department and the Indian River County Solid Waste Disposal District.
We conduct monthly outreach clinics at Camp Haven, the Source and United Against Poverty. At these clinics, we make repairs to bikes (and teach people to repair their bike themselves), install lights and provide/fit helmets. We hope to continue to expand this project so that everyone in our community who needs a bike has access to: (i) a bike, (ii) the resources necessary to keep their bike working safely, and (iii) the education necessary to operate their bike safely in traffic.
In 2016, The Bike Rehab Project:
3. Road Safety Improvements
Many of our County roads are unfortunately dangerous places to walk or ride a bike due to the lack of safety infrastructure such as bike lanes. For many years, the County had a policy against installing bike lanes on County roads. We persuaded the County to rescind that policy and replace it with a “Complete Streets” policy. Under the new Complete Streets policy, all County roads should be constructed with bike lanes and appropriate sidewalks provided that there is sufficient right of way to support these enhanced safety features. In accordance with this policy, we recently requested that the County Commissioners approve the conversion of the paved shoulder on the recently reconstructed portion of 66th Avenue to paved bike lanes. The Commissioner approved our request and that work has now been completed.
In addition, the two most recent county road reconstruction projects, 45th Street in Gifford and CR 510 in Fellsmere included designated bike lanes. We are currently working with the County staff to add bike lanes to 37th Street near the hospital and medical offices.
We also recently submitted a list of short and long term road safety improvement priorities to the County Public Works Department. We are actively working with elected officials and County staff to implement the changes proposed in our priority list.
We are also working with the Florida Department of Transportation to improve bicycle and pedestrian safety on the Barber and Wabasso bridges.
4. Bicycle Friendly Community Designation
We spearheaded the effort to apply for and obtain Bicycle Friendly Community designation for Indian River County through the League of American Bicyclists. That effort led to the County being awarded a “Bronze” level Bicycle Friendly Community designation in 2014. The next level is Silver. We are currently working to make the changes necessary for our community to qualify for Silver. There are currently only four communities in Florida that have been awarded the Silver designation. We hope to be number five.
In order to obtain the Silver designation, we will need to (i) show that Indian River County has significantly improved road safety for people riding bicycles, (ii) expand the scope and availably of bicycle safety education in our community, (iii) work with our law enforcement partners to continue to enhance bike safety enforcement and (iv) encourage more people in our community to ride bikes.
5. Law Enforcement Partnerships
We have developed partnerships with the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office, the Vero Beach Police Department and the Sebastian Policy Department. We supply bike lights for deputies so that instead of ticketing cyclists riding in the dark, they can, when appropriate, install a light for them. We also provide formal Florida Bicycle Law training for patrol deputies and officers.
As a component of our partnership, the Sheriff’s Office has increased the number of educational stops made by deputies. In particular, the deputies focus on educating people they observe riding bikes against the flow of traffic. Wrong way riding is illegal and very dangerous. We are also investigating, with our law enforcement partners, other methods of outreach, such as public service bike safety announcements.
6. Safe Cycling Promotion
In Indian River County, we have one of the largest concentrations of credentialed cycling safety instructors in the state of Florida. our team of credentialed instructor regularly holds clinics for both recreational riders an those who ride for transportation. In particular, we have begun offering safety training classes at United Against Property and hope to expand these classes to other social service venues.
We also have a team of Florida certified helmet fitters who supply and fit helmets as part of our community outreach efforts. Also, we are actively supplying front and rear lights through The Bike Rehab Project to make sure that nobody has to ride in the dark.
7. Impoundment Trails Project
We are supporting an initiative of the Mosquito Control District to open impoundment trails to off-road cycling and hiking.