Alumna’s work making Jacksonville more bike-friendly earns statewide honor from Florida Bicycle Association

Tuesday, May 1, 2018
City of Jacksonville employee profile of Amy Ingles.

It wasn’t all that long ago that Jacksonville, Florida, completed its first pedestrian and bicycle master plan with the help of a Georgia Tech alumna.

Apparently bicycle advocates across the state have taken notice: They recently honored that civil and environmental engineering graduate, Amy Ingles, as Florida’s bicycle professional of the year for 2017.

Amy Ingles, the Florida Bicycle Association's Professional of the Year for 2017. Ingles earned bachelor's and master's degrees in civil engineering at Georgia Tech. (Photo Courtesy: Amy Ingles)

“I was very surprised,” said Ingles, who earned her bachelor’s in civil engineering in 2011 and a dual master’s in civil engineering and city and regional planning two years later. “I hadn’t really had much coordination with the Florida Bicycle Association yet — they tend to focus on activities at the state level — so I was honored to find out that they’ve been keeping up with our progress here in Jacksonville.”

The association hands out awards each year to clubs, advocates, agencies and professionals who are working to make Florida a safer place to bike for transportation and recreation.

According to a city news release, that’s Ingles: “She is passionate about city life, public engagement, and supporting all modes of transportation so that everyone has a convenient and dignified way to get where they need to go.”

Ingles said her interest in engaging communities in pedestrian and bicycle issues started at a very early age, before she even understood what that meant.

“I remember as a kid growing up in the suburbs of West Palm Beach, looking out at the suburban sprawl as my mom drove me from place to place, and thinking that I didn’t like what I saw,” she said. “I couldn’t really articulate why or what I disliked, but I knew I wanted to be a part of what I saw on TV depictions of cities: people walking, taking buses and trains, not thousands of cars flying past big box shopping centers.”

When she came to Atlanta to study at Georgia Tech, Ingles said she started to rely more on biking, walking and MARTA public transit, experiences that reinforced what she was learning in the classroom.

“The idea that we can build cities in a way that makes us happier, healthier, and more connected to our neighbors is just so interesting to me. And the more I biked and walked, the more evidence of this idea I saw. So I decided that I wanted to be a part of creating the sort of environments that would improve people’s health and well-being.”

As the bicycle/pedestrian coordinator for Jacksonville, Ingles is in charge of making that a reality in the largest city by area in the continental United States, a place where people in the city limits live in suburbs, rural farms, historic city neighborhoods and just about every other kind of community.

“The city’s nearly 900,000 people exist in many different — often spread out — communities with different priorities and vastly different development patterns,” Ingles said.

“I’m constantly trying to reach out to the many different communities in Jacksonville to better understand their needs with respect to biking and walking.”

Ingles will accept her bicycle professional of the year award at a ceremony later this year.