Bikes Belong and Interbike investing in Las Vegas

$50,000 for bike lanes and frequent biker programme

American bike industry advocacy group Bikes Belong is partnering with Interbike to invest more than US$50,000 in the next two years to improve bicycling conditions in Las Vegas.

The three-phase project was launched with a $10,000 grant to help build 3.2 miles of bike lanes in the city's Ward 5. The Las Vegas Regional Transportation Commission matched the bike industry's contribution.

"Las Vegas has lots of potential to become a bicycle-friendly city," Bikes Belong executive director Tim Blumenthal said. "The weather during the school year is nearly ideal for riding, and the city has residential neighbourhoods where seamless bike paths, lanes and street crossings can be developed."

The Ward 5 Bicycle Coalition is a committee of community leaders and representatives from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, schools, recreation centers and the Las Vegas Bike Club. It will host bike rodeos and safety events to promote the new lanes.

In phase two, slated for the first half of 2010, Bikes Belong and Interbike will donate trip counters called Freikometres to several Las Vegas elementary schools.

These solar-powered devices, which tally bike rides and walks to school, are the backbone technology of the Freiker (Frequent Biker) programme.

Part of the growing national Safe Routes to School movement (called Suggested Routes to School in Las Vegas), Freiker helps to quantify and celebrate students who arrive at school under their own power, encouraging active, healthy transportation.

Phase three will be announced at Interbike 2010, complementing the first two phases through additional investments in Las Vegas bike facilities, programmes and organisations.

"Interbike and Bikes Belong are working closely together to get more people riding bikes more often," said Andy Tompkins, director of the Interbike show. "Supporting Safe Routes to School in Las Vegas is an ideal project in a logical location that affirms our partnership and provides a positive impact on the city that hosts our show."

According to the Ward 5 Bicycle Coalition, the new Las Vegas bike lanes, which will directly connect to three elementary schools and one public swimming pool, will make the Ward 5 community safer and more accessible for bicyclists of all ages. Eleven parks and community centres, 19 public schools and six churches in the neighbourhood will also benefit from these new lanes.

The first set of lanes – on J Street between Washington Avenue and Carey Avenue – is scheduled for completion in time to celebrate International Walk (and Bike) to School Day on 7 October. The second set – on H Street, between Bonanza Road and Miller Avenue – will be completed later this autumn.

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