WASHINGTON, D.C. (BRAIN)—Washington remains at the No. 1 spot in the League of American Bicyclists' annual Bicycle Friendly State (BFS) rankings, while many states suffer poor marks for low distribution of transportation funds towards bicycling projects and programs.
Notably, Maine has steadily risen to the number two rank after being placed sixth in 2008 and third in 2009 and 2010. Additionally, the League announced its third round of Bicycle Friendly States designations with three new winning states, one upgrade and two renewals.
The BFS rankings and awards are published every May during Bike Month to further encourage states to improve their bike-friendliness. The states are evaluated with a comprehensive annual questionnaire that is completed by state Department of Transportation bicycle coordinators. Additionally, the program also measures the combined performance of legislators, law enforcement, and state cycling advocates and promoters. "It is when there is combined and consistent work of multiple agencies, legislators and advocate promoting bicycling at the state level that you start to see big gains," said League president Andy Clarke. "The states that have consistently ranked in the top five or ten have that going for them."
The Top Five States
1. Washington 2. Maine 3. Wisconsin 4. Minnesota 5. New Jersey
The Bottom Five States (ranking 46-50)
46. Montana 47. Alabama 48. Arkansas 49. North Dakota 50. West Virginia
Maine moving to number two over the past four years shows how the system works. "With all the competing transportation needs we have, Maine is proud to maintain its high rankings over the last few years," said MaineDOT Commissioner David Bernhardt. "The State has worked hard to enact laws protecting bicyclists, create safety programs in schools, and use dedicated funding to make targeted improvements for bicyclists. Of course, we could not do this alone. This has been an ongoing, collaborative effort between local stakeholders, municipal officials and state agencies."
Though there have been only slight shifts in the top ten and bottom ten of the BFS ranking since the program's inception in 2008, the BFS program has helped inspire pro-bike legislation and policies throughout the country. With the dynamic and competitive state rankings, states are often separated by only a few items such as passage of key legislation, updated traffic code, or increased education programs. Examples of bike-friendly improvement this past year include: three-foot minimum safe passing bills signed into law in Kansas and Georgia; a Complete Streets policy implemented in Michigan and updated training on bicycling related laws and enforcement in Massachusetts.
Despite these and other gains across the country, many states suffered poor marks for low distribution of transportation funds towards bicycling projects and programs. A 2010 Congressional transportation rescission also disproportionately affected programs that typically fund bicycling, such as Transportation Enhancements. "Even some of our highly ranked states sent back 35-40 percent of their rescissions from the Transportation Enhancements program," stated Clarke. "With ridership at all time highs in many places and studies showing the overwhelming cost effectiveness of bicycling projects, as well as their positive impact on job creation, now is not the time to cut these critical funding programs." The Advocacy Advance partnership, comprised of the League and the Alliance for Biking and Walking, is creating best practice reports and will be conducting trainings on how to better maximize all federal aid funding programs that bicycling is eligible under.