Biking the Bend

The Quest for Maximum Bike Friendliness

Timothy Ball 

Ball Bike

The League of American Bicyclists gave South Bend, IN Bronze for its bike friendliness.  The highest ranking on this scale is Platinum, and is awarded to a city that is strong in bicycle Engineering, Education, Encouragement, Enforcement, and Evaluation and Planning.  This paper comprehensively assesses South Bend on thirteen categories to gauge its bicycle friendliness, in order to gain insights and provide recommendations on how to improve South Bend’s current performance in each category.  Areas requiring improvement are based on ethnographic observational visits to cities that have earned bicycle friendliness rankings of Gold.  These cities include, Bloomington, IN, Cambridge, MA, Corvallis, OR, and Palo Alto, CA.  Based on the  visits, the major lessons include: emphasis is required on community engagement efforts, a large  bicycle commuting student population helps cities achieve the highest rankings, eye­-catching  and functioning bicycle facilities are essential infrastructure elements, and community bike  centers promote bicycling within a community and lead to high levels of bicycle friendliness.