(Photo from University of Illinois at Chicago website)

On Tuesday, the League of American Bicyclists announced 51 Bicycle Friendly Universities, six of which are in Illinois, putting the state at the top of the list.

The Illinois universities named BFU’s are Southern Illinois University, University of Illinois Springfield, Loyola University Chicago, Northwestern University, School of the Art Institute of Chicago and University of Illinois at Chicago, which was recognized in the past.

“We are constantly working to support the City of Evanston’s designation as a Silver Bicycle Friendly Community,” Julie Cahillane of Northwestern’s Office of Sustainability says. “We are a fortunate university to be located in Evanston and we work to engage the university within the community as best as possible. This means supporting their leadership as a top rated bicycling community and working to make sure that Northwestern’s campus works towards the same goals of creating the best accommodations possible to encourage bicyclists.”

Recently, Northwestern has brought three Divvy bikeshare stations to campus, which attributes to the university’s Silver status, according to a press release.

There are now 164 BFUs in 44 states and Washington, DC, and college campuses across the United States are “transforming their campuses and communities around them.” In the past, both University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2011) and Illinois Wesleyan University (2014) were awarded Bronze status.

“In its fifth year, we’ve seen the Bicycle Friendly University program’s momentum continue to grow and reach even more campuses across the country,” said Bill Nesper, Programs Director. “We applaud this round of BFUs for raising the standard and being innovative in making bicycling a safe, convenient and enjoyable option for students, staff and visitors alike.”

Each year, the BFU program recognizes higher education institutions for creating a “bikeable campus” for students, faculty and visitors, according to its website. Once a university applies online, the program evaluates it in five areas: engineering, encouragement, education, enforcement and evaluation/planning.

The program was initiated by The League with a goal to create healthy and livable institutions of higher education; since, universities have used this momentum to incorporate bikeshare programs, bike co-ops, clubs, classes and policies to make bicycling an important mode of transportation.

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