May is National Bicycle Month, so we thought it would be a good to highlight the positive bicycling features in Boca Raton. Listed in alphabetical order below are some of the best aspects of bicycling in our city.
Cycling on A1A in Boca Raton is a wonderful experience. It is scenic and safe. The golf course, ocean parks and views of the ocean contribute to the scenery; whereas dedicated bike lanes, no thru cross streets, low vehicle speed limit and many cyclists contribute to safety. In 2014, the last year I analyzed bicycle/vehicle crash reports for Boca, there were seven crashes on A1A and 70 in the rest of the city. Considering the bicycle miles ridden on A1A versus other streets in the city, this is a remarkable safety record.
The Citizens’ Pedestrian and Bikeways Advisory Board consists of seven volunteer residents and a city staff member. They meet the second Monday of the month and provide advice to the city council and staff regarding pedestrian and bicycle matters. They welcome input and participation from residents.
Boca Raton Bicycle Club
The Boca Raton Bike Club has over 200 members and not only organizes group rides in the city, but performs charity work. Every year the club donates bikes, helmets and locks to needy children in Boca. Joining the club is a good way to meet others interested in cycling.
Boca was one of two cities in Florida to receive the first Bicycle Friendly Community award in 2003 and has maintained its award status ever since.
The evaluation process requires cities to submit answers to a very detailed questionnaire every four years. Areas evaluated include bicycling infrastructure engineering, education, encouragement, enforcement, and evaluation and planning. Also evaluated are key outcomes such as ridership and safety.
Bike parking racks are required for new developments by the city code and there are many locations throughout the city. The Yamato Tri-Rail station is a great example of bike parking done right. There are 46 protected bike lockers and 20 racks for bicycle parking.
There are many fine bike shops in Boca that offer bikes for sale, rental, maintenance, accessories, apparel, etc. Some shops offer off-the-shelf bikes; whereas others offer quasi-custom and custom bikes designed specifically for the customer. Several of the shops also offer high quality fitting services, where a bike is adjusted specifically for a customer.
Boca’s moderate climate and flat terrain contributes to the cycling experience. No snow, ice, pollution, etc., makes cycling a year-round enjoyable activity for all skill levels.
According to the latest US Census Bureau report, 542 Boca residents commute to work on a daily basis using bicycles. That is about 1.6% of daily Boca resident work commuters. With approved Planned Mobility Developments scheduled to come on-line over the next several years, it is expected that the number of bicycle commuters will increase.
There are three bicycle repair stations in the city that are available free of charge to cyclists. They are located on A1A at the exercise station outside of Spanish River Park, the Yamato Tri-Rail station and Sanborn Square. Included in the repair stations are an air pump. various tools such as wrenches and screwdrivers and two bike holders. One holder is for working on the lower section of the bike, while the other is for working on the upper section.
Off Road Trails
There are a number of shared use paths in Boca that are dedicated to cyclists and pedestrians. A key advantage is that no motorized vehicles are allowed on the trails, which improves safety and enjoyment. Some of the more popular trails include A1A, El Rio, T-Rex, Patch Reef and Palmetto Park. In my previous article The El Rio Trail is Grande, I described the El Rio Trail and provided a time lapse ride on it.
Bikes are the new toilet paper
The pandemic stay-at-home restrictions have triggered an increase in cycling purchases and activity in Boca as well as the rest of the world. Near term advantages to residents include improved health, less pollution, cost savings and fun. If the trend continues into the long-term, additional advantages will include less vehicle traffic, reduced vehicle parking space requirements and lower costs to the city. So, take advantage of these challenging times by getting on a bicycle and enjoying all that Boca has to offer.