BizVoice July/August 2014 - page 47

July/August 2014 – BizVoice/Indiana Chamber
Business of Sports
The community has a long history of
working to reduce impacts on the natural
environment. It created the Alternative
Transportation Fund in the late 1990s (and
first earned a bronze designation in 2003).
“The fund used overages in a neighborhood
parking program to help reduce the community’s
dependence on the automobile and fossil fuels
for transportation,” iterates Vince Caristo,
the city’s bicycle and pedestrian coordinator
during an interview in May, which has been
designated as Bloomington Bikes Month.
“That’s always been a part of our heritage in
Bloomington and why we have one of the
strongest transit systems in the state.”
The city has been reaching even higher
since its common council created the Bloomington
Platinum Biking Task Force in 2010 to help
achieve platinum status (the highest ranking –
two levels above silver). Since that time, its
total inventory of bikeways and paths (now at
69 miles) has increased 100% (this includes a
50% gain in multi-use paths and 40% growth
in bike lane mileage, as well as the addition of
20 miles of shared lanes).
“What we’ve worked on the most is
improving our infrastructure to support a wider
variety of everyday cyclists,” Caristo says. “The
goal is to clarify how bicyclists are supposed
to use our streets, and we want people using
it to feel safer. We want people on the road
to co-exist in the most efficient way.”
Money trail
He targets public health as a motivator,
articulating that the city wants to help citizens
incorporate activity in their daily lives. Economic
incentives, however, are also a critical driver.
The B-Line Trail – a 3.1-mile multi-use trail
that cuts through downtown – was completed
in 2010 for community use and has benefited
the area in many ways.
“We have planning regulations that
encourage surrounding land uses to orient
surrounding buildings to the trail,” Caristo
offers. “We’ve found that the trail is attracting
new investment – real estate investment
adjacent to it. It encourages people to come
outside and exercise for lunch, ride their bike.”
An Indiana University Kelley School of
Business study released in 2012 tallied
investment surrounding the trail at $75.18
million and determined appreciation of properties
near the trail outpaced those downtown.
Businesses are also participating in the
city’s pro-bike efforts, according to Caristo.
“Overall, the local business community
is filled with strong supporters of bicycling,”
he asserts. “We have 14 sponsors this year for
Bike to Work Day and some are hosting
tables to greet bicyclists. We have three
bicycle-friendly businesses in the community
(another designation from the League of
American Bicyclists).”
Bloomingfoods Market and Deli incentivizes
its employees to ride to work – and strives to
help the community get active as well.
“Our stores are all bike accessible with
bike racks; three have covered bike parking,”
points out Emily Winters, Bloomingfoods
special projects coordinator. “We also have
community partnerships with two local bike
shops that allow us to host repair demos for
our customers. We also got a grant from the
city to install a bike repair stand along the
B-Line Trail. That’s adjacent to one of our
stores, and anyone can use it.”
Furthermore, Bloomingfoods co-hosts a
National Bike to Work Day bash, in which it
blocks off the street adjacent to its downtown
“It’s important for us because we
advocate healthy lifestyles,” Winters says. “It
also shows our alignment with the city’s (goal
to reach platinum recognition). We’re
extremely supportive of that, and all the bike
lanes and the Civil Streets Initiative.”
Sharing the road
Civil Streets is a comprehensive program
designed to reduce unsafe behaviors by all
road users. Caristo notes local celebrities and
positive messaging have been used to discourage
rolling through stop signs and riding bikes on
sidewalks, as well as encourage yielding to
Indiana University-Bloomington (IUB)
also plays a role in the community’s work.
“(IUB has) an active group of staff
members that represent their sustainability
department and transit agency; all those
groups are active in promoting biking on
campus,” Caristo relays. “They’ve focused on
a bike library for students and staff to allow
them access to a working bike at little or no
cost to ride around town.”
He adds that most in the community
favor the efforts, and Bloomington strives to
educate those who have reservations.
“Very few people driving a car today got
much instruction on how to navigate around a
bicycle on a roadway, so (some pushback) is
to be expected,” Caristo contends. “We’ve put a
lot of effort into education and outreach to
address any tensions arising about road usage.
But across the country, people are starting to
leave their cars and use bikes for transportation.
It’s happening, but there are growing pains.”
Diff’rent spokes
Caristo reports that Bloomington’s
combined number of biking and walking
Bloomington’s recognition as a silver-accredited “Bicycle Friendly
Community” from the League of American Bicyclists in 2010 hasn’t
slowed the city’s efforts to achieve even more.
Bloomington Seeks Even Loftier Status
Bronze Bicycle
Friendly Communities
(League of American Bicyclists)
Indianapolis Fort Wayne South Bend
Part of Bloomington’s bicycle-friendly success is the buy-in from local organizations. Scholars Inn and
other businesses host races and make parking convenient for cyclists.
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