Cycling is a common form of exercise and transportation in The Villages. The Villages, in fact, is one of only 31 communities in the United States to be awarded Gold-level status by the League of American Bicyclists as a Bicycle Friendly Community. To achieve such a high rating, a community must demonstrate a commitment to bicycle safety, education, and accessibility. Whether you are new to bicycling, or an avid rider, there are many resources available to enhance your experience and provide the tools you will need to ride safely.
Resources at The Villages, Florida
The Villages is home to several bicycle clubs, catering to the occasional rider to the daily commuter. The Sumter Landing Bicycle Club is the largest, with over 800 members. The Sumter Landing Club logged a record-breaking 626,648 miles last year on BikeJournal.com, an international network of cyclists, more than any other registered club. The Village Bicycle Club, another Villages group, finished in fifth place with 163,603 miles logged by 41 members.
Bicycle clubs at The Villages are a great way to meet new people and keep fit. Clubs organize group rides and participate in community service projects. One such project is the annual bike drive. Partnering with the Sumter County Sheriff’s Department, the Sumter Landing club collects and refurbishes donated bikes, and helps distribute them to families in the area. If you enjoy biking and are looking for opportunities to volunteer in the community, the annual bike drive may be a perfect fit! Clubs are also a great resource for safety tips, information about how to buy bicycles and accessories, and information about the best places to ride.
The Villages also boasts a Bicycle Friendly Advocacy Council, created to promote safe cycling, and to work with the League of American Bicyclists to help The Villages achieve recognition as a Bicycle Friendly Community. The Council also organizes free bicycle safety classes throughout the year and works with local law enforcement agencies and schools to teach safe cycling to children. For those who want more in-depth training, the Villages Enrichment Academy offers an adult riding program taught by members of the Council.
Online Bicycle Resources in Florida
There are so many online resources for bicycling that it would take days just to sort through them all. You can learn everything you might want to know about bicycles and cycling; from choosing the right bike to starting your own bicycle club, to bike repairs, a wealth of information is at your fingertips. The resources listed below are a good start, but represent only a tiny cross-section of what is out there!
- League of American Bicyclists: A rich source of information about bicycle safety. Visitors to their website can find safety tips and videos, purchase safety equipment, and learn about bicycle friendly communities throughout the United States. The LAB also offers an online bicycling instructor certification program.
- The National Center For Bicycling and Walking: Created in 1977 to promote bicycle-friendly and walkable public spaces. The Center is a good resource for bike groups looking to work with government and community leaders to improve bicycle friendly spaces.
- The Bicycle Valet: Offers tips on how to choose the right bicycle, how to ride safely, and bicycle security.
- Florida Bicycle Association: “Network and share best practices, to educate and advocate and to build awareness as a unified voice.” The Association’s goals are education, advocacy, and communication: Educating cyclists, advocating on behalf of cyclists with local, state, and national governmental agencies, and providing a communication network for Florida cyclists. The Association publishes a regular newsletter, The Messenger, which is available by subscription to members. The Association also offers a Ride Leader/Ride Marshal certification class for cyclists interested in organizing group rides.
- Florida Department of Environmental Protection: lists bike touring and camping destinations throughout the state.
If you enjoy keeping track of how many miles you have ridden, you can join Bike Journal, and connect with other riders around the country.
For those interested in commuting by bicycle, online resources are available to help you get started. Experienced commuters share tips on the best bicycles for commuting, keeping your bicycle safe while you are at work, the best clothing to wear, and safety information. Several articles about commuting by bike can be found here. The League of American Bicyclists also offers information about bicycle commuting on their site. Best Reviews talks about commuter bikes here. Advice about commuting and other bicycling subjects can be found on Active.com, located here.