North Tahoe pushes to be bike friendly |

North Tahoe pushes to be bike friendly

Emma Garrard/Sierra Sun

TAHOE CITY – Local transportation officials could find out this weekend whether their effort to single out the North Tahoe region as a national cycling-centric destination will pay off.

The North Lake Tahoe Business Association has teamed with the Truckee North Tahoe Transportation Management Association and the North Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce to classify the region as a Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists, a Washington, D.C., cycling advocacy group that awards national recognition to cycling communities.

Ron Treabess, the resort association’s director of community partnerships and planning, said the idea came after talking with Ty Polastri, Tahoe Bicycle Coalition president, who helped South Lake Tahoe earn a bronze Bike Friendly Community label in 2006 – all classifications awarded through a platinum, gold, silver and bronze rating system.

“After talking with (Polastri) we said why don’t we do this for the whole North Tahoe area.” Treabess said.

Treabess said the new label would benefit the region’s quality of life both economically and environmentally through ecological tourism and health benefits.

Gordon Shaw, the transportation consultant who organized and submitted the application for TMA, said the process has already identified strong and weak points in North Tahoe’s cycling infrastructure.

“What we’ve found is that we’re really strong on facilities, community support for facilities and street maintenance, but we’re weak on advocacy,” Shaw said.

Outlining areas of improvement, Shaw said the group’s study of North Tahoe has shown a need for advocacy programs on a variety of levels from advertising North Tahoe’s collection of paved trail to educational outreach programs. Specifically, Shaw said area school districts could use a long-term plan to encourage students biking to school – something Shaw said is being done at a few schools on a small scale.

“It would also be a good feather in our cap in trying to develop the future of Tahoe’s resort economy,” he said.

And the statistics agree.

“The study we did showed that, at a minimum, bicycling is bringing in $6 million dollars to the Tahoe region,” said Karin Fink, the bicycle transportation planner at the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. Fink, who compiled and researched the Lake Tahoe Region Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan – used for the application – said the designation could spell out needed health benefits to the area in added funding for cycling projects.

According to the bicycle and pedestrian plan, the Centers for Disease Control reported that California reported an obesity of approximately 22 percent of its population in 2008, compared to less than 10 percent in 1990.

In Nevada the CDC reported obesity of approximately 27 percent of the population in 2008 compared to approximately 17 percent in 1999.

Meghan Cahill, director of communications for the League of American Bicyclists, said an announcement of new Bike Friendly Communities is expected Saturday, May 1.

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