The League of American Bicyclists' announcement stated South Lake residents are now part of 69 million Americans, in 325 communities across 50 states, who live in a Bicycle Friendly Community.
"Visionary community leaders are recognizing the real-time and long-term impact that a culture of bicycling can create," said Andy Clarke, President of the League of American Bicyclists. "We applaud this new round of communities for investing in a more sustainable future for the country and a healthier future for their residents and beyond."
The initiative was led by the South Lake Chamber's Sports & Tourism Committee and was supported by the five South Lake communities; Clermont, Groveland, Mascotte, Minneola and Montverde; as well as South Lake Hospital and The Cycling Hub, a gold-level Bicycle Friendly Business.
The Bicycle Friendly Community designation has several levels. South Lake earned the bronze level, which was awarded to other cities, such as Phoenix and previously awarded to Orlando.
This is the second fitness-related designation for the South Lake County region. Previously, South Lake earned a Runner-Friendly Designation.
The honor comes at a time when the South Lake region's reputation as a center for health, wellness and fitness continues to grow. The City of Clermont recently branded itself the "Choice of Champions" in part because of the large number of elite athletes, including triathletes, who live and train there due to the hills, lakes and state-of-the-art training facilities, such as the National Training Center.
Shannon Hidalgo, chair of the Chamber's Sports & Tourism Committee, who spearheaded the initiative to get the recognition said, "The Bicycle Friendly Designation is a national platform recognizing the livability found throughout the five cities of South Lake."
"High quality of life correlates with positive economic growth. We believe this accolade will help raise awareness of our trails and help promote the Coast-to-Coast connector."
Chamber President Ray San Fratello added, "Just as we found out with the Runner Friendly Community designation, great things can be accomplished when the public, private and independent sectors work in collaboration and cooperation."
"It will be exciting to watch our bicycle friendly communities add value to the South Lake area's quality of life over the years, not only for recreational experiences, but also as a viable means of transportation."
"Clermont has long been a favorite destination for bicycle riders, including the thousands who come here for our triathlons," said Clermont City Manager Darren Gray.
"The recognition fits perfectly with our vision of a city that is a choice of champions, not only for athletes but for people seeking a high quality of life."
John Moore, President of South Lake Hospital noted, "We are pleased to see South Lake County recognized as a Bicycle Friendly Community. Our responsibility as the healthcare leader in South Lake County is to continue to find ways to help our residents live healthy, active lifestyles"
"Promoting bicycling as a mode of transportation for our team members, fitness center members and athletes, as well as a recreational activity, is a perfect complement to our efforts at South Lake Hospital."
Moore pointed out that the effort was done jointly with all five of the local governments. "This was a South Lake initiative, not just a Clermont one. It shows the participation of the entire area."
For more about the Bicycle Friendly Community designation, visit www.bikeleague.org.