New city bike/ped coordinator to give voice to cyclists, walkers

Amy Ingles

Amy Ingles

Amy Ingles, Jacksonville’s new Bicycle/Pedestrian Coordinator, knows of what she speaks and practices what she preaches.

A native of Royal Palm Beach, Florida, the Riverside resident has “lived quite happily without owning a car for nearly four years” and is an avid bicycle commuter, riding nearly nine miles from her office downtown to attend a bike-ped public meeting in San Jose.

Ingles even has a WALK tattoo inked on her upper arm as a “way to get people talking,” she said.

“People often ask me why I did not get a bike tattoo. I know everyone is not going to get on a bike. However everyone is a pedestrian at some point, and pedestrians of every kind represent the most vulnerable user in the transportation system. It is our most important responsibility to protect them. Walking is the most basic form of transportation available to humans. It takes no training or special equipment. Therefore, it should be safe, comfortable, and convenient for all people, regardless of age, socioeconomic status or physical ability,” she said.

Ingles is a Georgia Tech alumnus who received a Bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and a Master’s degree in both civil engineering and city planning in 2014. Most recently, she sharpened her skills for three years in Boston, Massachusetts, where she conducted innovative research at the John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, sat on the board of a fast-growing bicycle co-op called CommonWheels, and did a brief stint as a bicycle courier with Metro Pedal Power.

In taking over the position vacated by Denise Chaplick earlier this year, Ingles has her work cut out for her. According to the Alliance for Biking and Walking 2016 Benchmarking Report, Jacksonville has the highest rate of pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities of the 50 most popular cities in the U.S. Ingles said one of her main goals, along with reducing fatalities, is to “amplify and diversify the bicycling and walking voice.”

“I’m thrilled to be working in a position that focuses on an issue so close to my heart: making biking and walking safer, easier and more enjoyable for people of all ages and abilities. I am especially excited to be in a position where I can make very real and impactful change,” she said.

“The bicycling and walking community is as diverse as the Jacksonville community as a whole, and the needs we aim to satisfy should reflect that,” she continued. “However, it is often the case the most vulnerable users in the community – children, elderly and low-income workers who cannot afford a personal vehicle – are not the ones with the strongest voice. I believe our infrastructure reflects this. I hope to use my advocacy and community-building background to reach out to groups who, for many reasons, have been more difficult to reach. I think this will help the city to build a bicycle and pedestrian network that feels safe and convenient for people of all ages and abilities.”

Since she moved to Riverside three months ago, Ingles said she has participated in a few “social” rides including the monthly S-Line Ride with Groundworks Jacksonville, the RAM Ride that starts from Riverside Arts Market each Saturday and a no-drop fitness ride that begins at Open Road Bike Shop in Avondale every Tuesday evening.

The best thing about riding in Jacksonville’s historic districts is “no hills,” Ingles said. “In the urban core there is a nice grid network that interconnects the various neighborhoods with relatively low-speed roads, providing easy bicycle access to the small commercial districts sprinkled throughout. This makes living without a car quite easy on the day-to-day. The Riverwalk on both banks is an incredible asset and a beautiful way to spend an evening ride and commute to work. Jacksonville is a beautiful city, and I’m enjoying it by bike!” she said.

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

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