Huntsville’s emerging bike scene recently received some nice recognition from People For Bikes when the bike advocacy group ranked Huntsville as the 37th best bike city out of over 500 cities that were ranked. Even more impressive is that Huntsville was one of the highest ranked cities in the entire Southeast and was ranked 3rd in the nation in the category of “Acceleration”.
This is an important category because it recognizes the pace at which a city is increasing its bicycle resources. In particular, People For Bikes defines Acceleration as “how quickly a community is improving its biking infrastructure and getting people riding."
All of this fantastic recognition gave us a reason to reflect on the exciting cycling scene right here in Downtown Huntsville. From slow rides to cycle tracks, the Rocket City Center is seeing well-paced growth in our bicycle resources. Let’s take a look at a few…
1. Slow Rides: While time trials and crits are great for competitive cyclers, slow rides are a fantastic way for recreational riders to experience life on two wheels. Downtown Huntsville has seen a growing number of slow rides added through the year. In addition to the Mayor’s Bike Ride each May, the monthly Bikes & Brews is one of the most popular slow rides anywhere in the region. With multiple stops at local breweries and craft beer establishments, Bikes & Brews brings together a community of Huntsvillians who appreciate both. Downtown Huntsville is also home to the annual Tweed Ride and Tour de Ville which brings together slow riders with themed tours of Downtown and a variety of unique experiences.
2. The Actual Bikes: Downtown Huntsville is home to one of the most popular Pace bikeshare systems with nearly 100 bikes across multiple stations all around the city center. The app-based Pace system allows riders to check out bikes from both the permanent stations as well as any public bike rack where a Pace bike is located. This ability to start and stop your ride at any public bike rack dramatically expands the scope of bike availability around Downtown. In addition to Pace, Huntsville Urban Bikeshare (HUBS) provides bicycles for group events that have included everything from Leadership Greater Huntsville groups to the various slow rides in the city center. For a different type of pedaling experience, you and your friends can hop aboard the Rocket City Rover “pedal pub” and experience Downtown destinations while pedaling away at your own pace. And, of course, if you want to purchase your own bike, Downtown options currently include the Trailhead bike shop at Lowe Mill ARTS & Entertainment (with rumors that at least another bike shop may be considering a Downtown location).
3. Bike Infrastructure: In 2018, Downtown Huntsville won an International Downtown Association award for the Spragins Connector—the new cycle track that connects Depot Park and Big Spring Park East. The cycle track was recognized for embracing advanced technology and for connecting two bike friendly paths in both parks. By connecting these parks, the ability to ride a bike apart from motor vehicles was dramatically expanded. This strategy arose from the recent Downtown Huntsville Master Plan Update which proposed expanding bike infrastructure throughout Downtown. A new phase of this expansion is underway as new bike lanes are added to Clinton Avenue from Campus 805 toward the Von Braun Center as part of the City’s Complete Streets grant for that section. This initial phase will be supported by subsequent phases that extend the Clinton Avenue extension deeper in the Downtown core as well as add new bike infrastructure on Holmes Avenue from Downtown to UAH and connecting Gateway Greenway to the Meridian Street bikes lanes in the Lincoln Mill District. While we’d always love even more, even faster, these actual and planned expansions are one of the major reasons People For Bikes scored Huntsville so highly.
As you can see, the Downtown Huntsville bike scene is experiencing exciting growth in all phases. These are just a few of the examples of the great cycle experiences throughout the Rocket City. With the warmer weather here, consider touring Downtown Huntsville and our beautiful neighborhoods and districts on two wheels this Summer!