When bikers get together things happen. Trails are cleared. Records are broken and organizations are built. At least that's the idea behind the fledgling Wood River Bicycle Coalition. Founded earlier this year after Sean McLaughlin, Blair Clark and Scott Montgomery met in Washington, D.C., the group is meeting Thursday to discuss expanding its agenda.
When they met, the trio was attending the National Bike Summit, a lobbying effort that's put on by the League of American Bicyclists. The coalition now operates informally under the auspices of the Blaine County Recreation District.
"We were very inspired by the Bicycle Friendly Communities aspect of the League of American Bicyclists," McLaughlin said. "They come and audit your area. We applied as the Wood River Valley, something Ada County was also able to do, rather than as a city."
The audit looks at five areas—engineering, education, enforcement, encouragement and evaluation. The Wood River Valley was notable for its Safe Routes to School program, about 50 miles of paved bicycle pathways, more than 400 miles of single-track mountain biking trails and numerous bicycle lanes and routes throughout the area. What the Wood River lacks, however, is a bicycle policy and an overall plan.
As a result, the Wood River Valley recently won silver status as a bicycle-friendly community. To date, 96 towns and cities have been rated bicycle-friendly communities. Boulder, Colo., Portland, Ore., and Davis, Calif., are the only cities in the U.S. to have earned platinum, the top designation.
The League awards the four-year designations to communities that have successfully worked to integrate bicyclists into the community.
"It's an honor and we take pride in it," McLaughlin said. "We got a four-page feedback with lists, and suggestions on how to improve the community. It forms a template to improve. Also from a tourism perspective it can be used to our advantage, too."
At an open meeting to be held tomorrow at KB's in Hailey, the coalition will address bicycle policy and local advocacy and some ideas to improve the valley's cycling amenities.
"Part of what this is about is talking about getting to gold," McLaughlin said. "We'll have representatives from each city there. The idea is to get everyone in the same room—cyclists, the public. We're looking for feedback. This is a public forum."
WR Bike Coalition Meeting
When: 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 6
Where; KB's in Hailey.
Cost: Free with chips and beer included.
Contact: Sean McLaughlin 721-8137.