National Biking and Walking Organization Honors Limestone Professor

Dr. Paul LeFrancois at the Paris-Brest-Paris ride.

By Emily Wallace '11

Dr. Paul LeFrancois, Limestone Professor of Economics and Chair of the Division of Professional Studies, recently received the Alliance for Biking and Walking Advocate of the Year Award.

Advocate of the Year is one of seven prestigious Advocacy Awards that the Alliance for Biking and Walking presents annually at the National Bike Summit in Washington, DC.

The Alliance is a nationwide grassroots organization that works to unite, strengthen and create opportunities to transform communities into great places to walk and bike. They work with numerous groups across North America to make it easier and safer for individuals to bike and walk for recreation and transportation.

According to the Alliance, Advocate of the Year is given to someone who "has shown tireless commitment to promoting bicycling and walking in his community and serves as a role model for other advocates in the region and in North America." LeFrancois, President and founding member of the Palmetto Cycling Coalition, has worked diligently in transforming South Carolina's biking and walking opportunities.  " It was a humbling experience to be selected as the advocate of the year from the numerous bicycling and pedestrian advocates across North America," said LeFrancois. "It was also gratifying to know that I was nominated for the award by fellow advocates or advocacy organizations."

With his help, The PCC has had some significant successes. South Carolina became the second state in the nation to pass legislation to create a Share the Road license plate with funds from the plate coming back to the Coalition to support bicycle safety and education programs. The Coalition has also worked with the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) to distribute hundreds of helmets, bicycle lights, and reflective gear to children and to those who rely on the bicycle as their primary mode of transportation. In 2006, the PCC drafted legislation to reform South Carolina's bicycle traffic safety laws.  These reforms were passed by the legislature in June, 2008.

LeFrancois and the PCC currently are working with the state's law enforcement community on bicycle safety and education initiatives based on the new bicycle safety laws. "Over the past 30 years and 100,000+ miles of cycling I've developed wonderful friendships and seen amazing places from the seat of bicycle," he said. "I've enjoyed a mode of transportation where you do get to stop and smell the roses (and fix a few flats) along the way.  I would feel a bit guilty if I didn't try to give back to an activity that has given so much to me."