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Fort Wayne’s bicyclists have a leg up

Indiana lost its yellow jersey by dropping drastically in its status as a bike-friendly state.

Indiana ranked 42nd on a report from the League of American Bicyclists released this week.

The state was 30th last year and ranked 19th the year before – the state’s best grade on the bicycling advocacy group’s annual study.

Bike-riding Hoosiers should not despair. It appears at least part of the reason for the state’s decline rests with the study’s methodology.

Last year, Indiana didn’t reply to the survey so League staff members completed the information. It’s possible they were too generous with their assessment. Additionally, this year’s study also incorporated data gathered by the Alliance for Biking and Walking, another biking-advocacy organization.

But state leaders need to consider the League’s main criticism. Indiana lags far behind other states in laws protecting bicyclists and pedestrians, such as safe passing laws.

Fortunately, local leaders are in front of this issue. Last fall, The Fort Wayne City Council passed a traffic ordinance that included provisions to protect bicyclists, including a requirement that motorists provide at least 3 feet of space when passing a bike. That step likely contributed to the city’s receiving an award last year from the League of American Bicyclists.

The city is also working on installing more bike racks – about 50 each year.

“We emphasize bike parking because without bike parking people can’t use bikes as a form of transportation,” said Paul Spoelhof, the senior city planner responsible for developing the city’s bike plan. “Without being able to securely leave your bike, it doesn’t work.”

City leaders also deserve credit for sponsoring the Trek the Trails program, a seasonal series of guided bike rides on city trails. The fourth year of Trek the Trail kicks off on Tuesday.

“That continues to get a great turnout and a growing turnout,” Spoelhof said. “It’s a great opportunity for people to learn safety skills and gain confidence riding.

“The more confident people get, the more likely they are to use bikes for transportation, which, of course, makes Fort Wayne a more bike-friendly place.”

Buy a purse, boost a child

Women and purses just seem to go together, which is why United Way of Allen County’s Power of the Purse event perfectly complements a great cause: high-quality early education.

United Way’s Women United group holds its fourth annual fundraiser Thursday at IPFW’s International Ballroom. The clever event uses a purse auction to raise money for at-risk children to attend high-quality early childhood programs, building on United Way’s efforts to invest in high-quality child care and early learning.

Tickets for Thursday’s event, at $75 each, are available online at

A Hoosier comes home

Fort Wayne residents may be interested in learning about the Fort Wayne connection to Gov. Mike Pence’s recent appointment to his administration.

Pence announced the appointment of Jessica Robertson as commissioner of the Department of Administration on Wednesday. Robertson represents at least the second generation of Hoosier public servants in her family.

She is the daughter of Loren Robertson, director of the Public Safety Academy of Northeast Indiana, who long served as administrator of the Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health and as deputy commissioner for the Indiana State Department of Health.

In the announcement, Pence highlighted Jessica Robertson’s impressive qualifications for her new role. She most recently worked as chief procurement officer for the Tennessee Department of General Services where she was responsible for negotiating multi-million dollar contracts and establishing the state’s procurement policies. She was a deputy commissioner in Indiana managing procurement before moving to Tennessee.

“Jessica Robertson demonstrates true leadership and is uniquely qualified to serve as the commissioner of the Department of Administration,” said Pence in the news release. “She exemplifies what it means to work hard with respect and integrity. She will serve the people of Indiana well, and we are pleased to welcome her home.”