WASHINGTON, D.C. (BRAIN)—The League of American Bicyclists has announced its 2009 spring Bicycle Friendly Communities and States in celebration of Bike Month 2009, starting May 1.
The League is recognizing 13 new Bicycle Friendly Communities and three BFC renewals. Notably, five states have their first BFC designations: Cedar Falls, Iowa; Columbia, Missouri; Tulsa, Oklahoma.; Columbus, Ohio; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Philadelphia and Columbus add to the League's roster of metropolitan cities east of the Mississippi River to become a BFC, proving that the nation—not just the west coast—is growing increasingly aware of the benefits of becoming more bicycle-friendly.
"It was very encouraging to have five new states represented, some big cities east of the Mississippi, and a significant improvement in responses to enforcement and planning questions," said League president Andy Clarke.
The cities that received BFC designations have made great strides in the past few years. Philadelphia and Columbus are both bronze BFCs and at critical points of the process to become great cities for cyclists. Philadelphia is back on track after doing a lot in the late 1990s with its on-street network. They have hired a bike coordinator, Bike Philly is growing apace, there are unique urban mountain biking opportunities and industry and advocates are working effectively with Philadelphia to move things forward. Columbus has an exciting new Bicycle Master Plan; and if fully implemented, it will build one of the better urban trail systems in the country. Both of these communities benefit from new mayors who are committed to improving the quality of life in communities through bicycling. In addition to these, Tulsa and Irvine, California, both have bike sharing programs. Clarke noted the impressive advances of the BFC applicants and said, "This round of applications had more communities with newer and stronger bike plans than all previous reviews."
Additionally, the League is announcing its inaugural round of Bicycle Friendly States. Four states have been awarded the coveted designation and two states received an honorable mention: Washington (Silver), Wisconsin (Silver), Arizona (Bronze), Minnesota (Bronze), Delaware (Honorable Mention) and Maryland (Honorable Mention).
"This year we are recognizing several states for their impressive initiatives to improve conditions for bicyclists, and the timing could not be better for doing that: to lessen energy consumption and improve the environment, health benefits and traffic," Clarke said.
The BFC and BFS programs are revolutionizing the way states and communities evaluate their quality of life, sustainability and transportation networks, while allowing them to benchmark their progress and work toward improving their bicycle-friendliness. The application process to become a BFC is rigorous; currently only 108 of the 274 applicants have a BFC four-year designation. The renewal process and four levels of the ward—platinum, gold, silver and bronze—provide a clear incentive for communities to continuously improve. The new and expanded BFC program began at the League in 1995, and in the past 14 years it has evolved into the tool it is today—evaluating, recognizing and improving cities, states and businesses. The League judges all BFC applications on its fundamental Five Es— Engineering, Education, Encouragement, Enforcement and Evaluation.
The BFS program links the League's work with federal level and community advocacy throughout the nation and recognizes states that actively support bicycling. Scoring is based on a 75-item questionnaire evaluating a states' commitment to bicycling and covers six key areas: legislation, policies and programs, infrastructure, education and encouragement, evaluation and planning, and enforcement.