COLUMBIA — Columbia, Mo., and Columbia, Md., have a few things in common.
Most noticeably, they have the same name. More recently, people in the Maryland city have started encouraging increased use of bicycles, and they're asking their Missouri counterpart's mayor to help.
Mayor Darwin Hindman will be traveling to Columbia, Md., this week to advise the city about ways to become more bicycle-friendly.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Hindman said. “I am a firm believer that we need to offer alternate forms of transportation, and I’m glad to have the opportunity to work with Columbia, Md., on this matter.”
Jud Malone, the founder of Columbia Tomorrow, a Columbia, Md.-based organization that advocates the use of bicycles for transportation, contacted Hindman after seeing an article profiling the mayor in Parade magazine called “Reinventing America: A Free-Wheeling City.”
Malone said he wanted to contact Hindman because of the mayor’s passion for cycling and because of the shared city name.
“Just from the write-up in the paper and from seeing his photographs it seems like he’s a very passionate guy and it seems like he’d be a great guy to meet,” Malone said.
The work by Columbia, Mo., to put a focus on alternative transportation was a large part of why the people in Columbia, Md., wanted to have Hindman visit.
“They wanted somebody who was a leader in this idea that I have worked on while I’ve been mayor,” Hindman said. “So that’s what it’s about, to help them try and become a truly bicycle-friendly city.
Columbia, Md., is planning a revitalization of its downtown area, and Malone said Columbia Tomorrow wants to encourage the city to make a commitment to focusing on bicycle transportation a part of that.
He said the city was a planned community founded in the 1960s that included nearly 100 miles of pedestrian pathways.
“In the beginning, Columbia had the idea of creating dedicated pathways for people who wanted to walk or ride bikes,” Malone said. “Those pathways have not been as successful as we would like them to be at encouraging people to ride bicycles.
When Hindman visits, Malone said the mayor will be meeting with a variety of community leaders, going on a bike ride in town and attending a bicycle multimedia exhibit at the community college.
“We’re asking the mayor to share some experiences that Columbia, Mo., has had in making it a bicycle-friendly place and help get our community inspired,” Malone said.
Hindman said that one of the purposes of the pilot project grant money that Columbia has received is to make the city a demonstration of how to become bicycle-friendly, and this trip is one way to demonstrate the improvements that have happened.
“I’m proud of what we’ve done here and I think Columbia is a great place to live, and it’s great that we’re catching some attention for what we’ve done,” he said.
Columbia Tomorrow is paying for Hindman’s trip.