Today, as Bike to Work Week continues, the League of American Bicyclists announces 34 new and renewing Bicycle Friendly Communities (BFC℠). There are now 372 BFCs, in all 50 states. Over 72 million people in the United States now live in a Bicycle Friendly Community.
“We are inspired by how these communities make bicycling a safe and convenient option for transportation and recreation for all,” said Bill Nesper, Program Director at the League of American Bicyclists. “Making communities more accessible by bike is at the core of creating more vibrant, healthy, sustainable and connected communities. We thank them for their great work in making our shared vision of a truly Bicycle Friendly America for everyone become a reality.”
The BFC program is revolutionizing the way communities evaluate their quality of life, sustainability and transportation networks, while allowing them to benchmark their progress toward improving their bicycle-friendliness. The BFC award recognizes a community’s commitment to improving conditions for bicycling through investment in bicycling promotion, education programs, infrastructure and pro-bicycling policies.
For the Spring 2016 round of BFC Awards, 15 communities are receiving their first award. Of those communities, six previously had an Honorable Mention and nine had never applied to the BFC program before. In this round, six communities moved up and 14 communities renewed at the same level. This is the second round in a row with a Platinum BFC Awardee. In the Fall 2015 BFC Awards, Madison, WI, moved from Gold to Platinum. In this round, Davis, CA, renewed its Platinum status.
“The City of Davis is honored to retain our Platinum level status,” according to Bike and Pedestrian Coordinator Jennifer Donofrio. “We continue to improve upon our infrastructure and programs to promote bicycling in Davis. Since our 2012 Bicycle-Friendly Community award, we have constructed a protected intersection and two cycle tracks, installed seven-foot wide buffered bike lanes, enhanced bike and pedestrian crossings and developed both fun and educational programs. In 2014 the City completed a Bicycle Action Plan which intends to put Davis on the path to become a Diamond level Bicycle-Friendly Community. This year we are starting bike education classes and next year we will have bike share!”
California led all states with seven BFC awards this round. Other states with multiple communities receiving awards include Indiana and North Carolina with three each and Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho and Maryland with two each.
John Landosky, Bicycle Pedestrian Coordinator for new Bronze BFC Little Rock, AR, found the process of applying to be a Bicycle Friendly Community to be very rewarding. “Answering the questions forced me to create relationships with a variety of people, both within and outside city government. In addition to helping me forge important connections, the application was also a teaching tool. The information the BFC application required me to obtain helped me quantitatively consider Little Rock’s bike friendliness from the League of American Bicyclists’ perspective, and it helped me identify strengths and weaknesses of our city even before we obtained feedback from the League. It also helped me learn and tell the stories of our community that can motivate us to become more bike friendly.”
The BFC application process also inspired the Bikeways Advisory Committee of Topeka, KS, to move forward on addressing some ordinances and policies within their city, which earned a Bronze designation this round. “Working on the BFC application and achieving the Bronze status has been a great experience for our community. After having our first Bikeways Plan adopted in 2012 with no allocated funds for implementation, we formed a Bikeways Advisory Committee and began the process of applying for BFC Bronze. The community is now on board and recently voted to fund full implementation of the complete Bikeways Plan in the coming years. Bicycle ridership is up, and the city has recently launched the most successful bikeshare program in the state. We also now have a Complete Streets review team that reviews all new roadway improvement. We will continue our relationship with League and anticipate this being the first step in obtaining our goal as a top bicycle community for both recreation and destination bicycling.”
More established BFCs also learn much from the application process. According to returning Gold BFC Tuscon-East Pima County, AZ, “completing the Bicycle Friendly Community application has helped us focus our efforts to improve cycling and to better understand and prioritize key provisions and safety measures that can help us do so. In working with area jurisdictions and citizens, we realize we can greatly improve safety and access. We also plan to better integrate bicycle facility planning and provisions as part of affordable housing, as well as expanding education for youth and families in low-income areas.”
Sitka, AK, was proud to advance from Bronze to Silver BFB status. Charles Bingham with the Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition says, “we’re excited to hear about the upgrade in our Bicycle Friendly Community status here in Sitka. We worked hard to improve our bike culture, and I think that’s evident in how since 2008 we’ve nearly doubled the number of people who bike to work. In the years after becoming Alaska’s first BFC in 2008, we have worked to increase our education and encouragement for new riders. On May 28, we will hold the Sitka Community Bike Ride, and during that time we will be celebrating the 125th anniversary of the first bicycle seen in Sitka. It will be nice to announce this BFC status upgrade at the ride.”
The BFC program provides a roadmap to building a Bicycle Friendly Community and the application itself has become a rigorous and an educational tool in itself. Since its inception, more than 800 distinct communities have applied and the five levels of the award — diamond, platinum, gold, silver and bronze — provide a clear incentive for communities to continuously improve.
To apply or learn more about the BFC program, visit bikeleague.org/community.
About the Bicycle Friendly America℠ Program
The Bicycle Friendly Community℠, Bicycle Friendly State℠, Bicycle Friendly Business and Bicycle Friendly University℠ programs are generously supported by program partner Trek Bicycle Corp. To learn more about building a Bicycle Friendly America, visit http://www.bikeleague.org/BFA
The League of American Bicyclists is leading the movement to create a Bicycle Friendly America for everyone. As leaders, our commitment is to listen and learn, define standards and share best practices to engage diverse communities and build a powerful, unified voice for change.