I’m sure we’ve all seen those maps that rank states based on random facts, like this one… but today, I’ll be talking about something more exciting. The ranking of states based on their relationship to bicycling.
Here, at USF, we have students from all over the world. Many are even from most, or possibly least, bicycle friendly states. Maybe even some in this classroom. (List the most/least bicycle friendly states). For the second-straight year, Washington and Minnesota took the top two spots on an annual list of states that are best for cyclists. But the League of American Bicyclists’ rankings also show that no state scored higher than 67 points out of 100. Last on the list was Alabama, which has occupied the No. 50 slot in four of the past eight rankings. The state earned a score of 12.3 points. The top 5: Washington, Minnesota, Delaware, Massachusetts, Utah; the bottom 5: Montana, Nebraska, Kansas, Kentucky, Alabama. The league’s rankings are based on a range of criteria that reward areas such as new policies, advocacy, legal protections and infrastructure. The league also issues a “report card” for each state, including a feedback section. One common suggestion: “Adopt a statewide, all-ages cell phone ban to combat distracted driving and increase safety for everyone.” For Alabama, the feedback includes the observation, “Alabama has a high rate of bicyclist fatalities. Ensure that bicycle safety is a major emphasis in all transportation projects, programs and policies to address this issue.” The League of American Bicyclists’ rankings show, “how amenable states are to cycling, based on criteria that range from infrastructure to laws and advocacy.”
The “Top 10 Signs of Success” for cycling in U.S., according to the League of American Bicyclists:
- 1 percent or more of people commuting by bike
- Safe passing law (3 feet or greater)
- Complete streets policy
- Dedicated state funding
- Active state advocacy group
- State bicycle plan (adopted 2005 or later)
- Share the road campaign
- Vulnerable road user law
- Bicycle safety emphasis in strategic highway safety plan
- 2 percent or more federal funds spent on bike/pedestrians
There’s no secret to what the states at the top of the list are doing: They’re providing bike lanes and wide shoulders, and allowing cyclists access to major bridges and tunnels. They’re lowering speed limits to 20 mph, and increasing penalties for drivers who injure or kill cyclists. Their leaders openly promote cycling as a healthy and safe way to get around. They produce and distribute maps of bike paths and trails. The results are equally clear: High rates of commuters who bike, with low cyclist and pedestrian fatalities.
I’ve been to Minnesota, and can tell you they definitely deserve the second spot on this list. I mainly spent my time in Minneapolis and can say that the bicycle culture is completely different than Los Angeles and San Francisco. Owning and/or riding bicycles is the norm there. You’ll always see someone biking, even in the winter when the temperature is below zero. I must say, it’s quite the site, especially since many of them are biking on top of a frozen lake.
Are any of you from the most/least friendly bicycle states? What has been your experience? Have any of you visited the most/least friendly bicycle states? What do you have to say about your travels in rather to bicycles?