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Lakeland continues to push forward with bicycle-friendly options for families

Posted at 4:21 AM, Mar 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-19 07:46:43-04

LAKELAND, Fla. — More Lakeland families are choosing to leave the car at home and take their bikes to work, school, shopping and more. This comes as the City of Lakeland is working to add new safety measures to protect cyclists at high-crash corridors.

"We've definitely seen an uptick with the pandemic," said Chris Bishop, who is the manager of David's World Cycle, located on Florida Avenue in Lakeland.

Bishop, a lifelong cyclist, is now helping other families find their own love of cycling during the quarantines of COVID-19.

"Maybe a vacation got canceled or they couldn't fly, they couldn't travel," Bishop said. "And so they bought bikes and did a stay-at-home vacation."

The City of Lakeland has been creating new bike trails and expanding existing ones, according to Mary Crowe with Bicycling In Lakeland.

These efforts also include a new bicycle action safety plan that focuses on adding new safety measures in high-crash corridors.

Over the last ten years, more than 2,400 bicyclists and pedestrians have been injured while traveling on roads in Polk County. To address this problem, the Polk TPO has prepared Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Action Plans to identify specific actions that can be taken to reduce the number and severity of bicycle and pedestrian crashes.

"The city has put in kind of traffic islands, so that pedestrians when they're crossing the road, have a place kind of in between the lanes where they're if they're up on a concrete block," Crowe said.

"They've extended the pass times. When you hit the button to cross, there's an extra five seconds for folks to get across in either direction, where the traffic has stopped."

Cyclists like Crowe and Bishop said what makes Lakeland truly bicycle-friendly is places like the Fort Frasier Trail. This allows cyclists to get to work, home, or shopping and still be separate from busy traffic.

"There are a number of people who are very uncomfortable riding their bikes on roads," Crowe said.

Bicycling In Lakeland members typically go on huge group rides, but for now, they've been on pause.

"It's not something that during the pandemic, we were comfortable in doing in a large group," she said.

Crowe said Lakeland has come a long way in making the city bike-friendly, but they could still go further.

"They could start providing more parking for cyclists, or places for cyclists to lock their bikes in downtown Lakeland," she said.

As more people get vaccinated, Crowe is hopeful to resume those big group rides around Lakeland one day soon.