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Massachusetts is big winner while Wisconsin loses spots in latest Bicycle Friendly State rankings

Published May 11, 2015

BOSTON (BRAIN) — Massachusetts jumped from 10th to fourth in the latest League of American Bicyclists' Bicycle Friendly State rankings.

The Bay State made the leap — the most notable positive change at the top of the rankings — in part thanks to the passage of a new transportation bond that commits $400 million for bike and walk projects in the next five years.

Pennsylvania and Utah also made improvements, with Utah moving up from eighth to fifth this year and Pennsylvania from 19th to 12th.

Washington remains the top-ranked state, as it was last year, and Minnesota is in the silver medal spot. Delaware displaced Wisconsin — which plummeted to ninth — for third.

"We're encouraged to see measurable progress and improvement in many states, including Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Utah," said League President Andy Clarke. "We hope to see continued improvements as more statewide leaders recognize and invest in the many benefits bicycling has to offer."

Richard Fries, the executive director of the state-wide advocacy group MassBike, said he's gunning the top of the podium as soon as next year. 

“When we studied the criteria by which the League ranks the states, we expect to check off several more boxes in 2015. With our membership growing, strong leadership from the state Department of Transportation, and visionary partners statewide, we see a powerful opportunity to move into the top spot by 2016,” Fries said.

States are scored on the level of bike-friendly legislation and enforcement programs, policies, infrastructure and funding, education and encouragement, and evaluation and planning. Top-ranked Washington scored 66, the same as it did last year, while Massachusetts went from 53 to 55. Wisconsin fell from 56 points to 52. Bottom-ranked Alabama lost ground, falling from 17 points to 12.

Walker's not a biker

In a state-specific "report card," the League cited policies and plans of Wisconsin's Gov. Scott Walker as contributors to the rankings, and warned that take time to move back up.

"Gov. Walker has proposed a repeal of the Wisconsin Complete Streets law, cuts to state funding for bicycling and walking, and the elimination of the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program, which often provides matching funds for trail projects. If these changes come to pass, bicycling in Wisconsin will be set back significantly and it may be years to recover the state support for bicycling that has led to Wisconsin’s history of being one of the most Bicycle Friendly States in America," the League said.

Walker defeated challenger Mary Burke, a former Trek Bicycle executive, to keep his seat last year. 

The full rankings: bikeleague.org/content/ranking.

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