Today the League of American Bicyclists has announced 55 new and renewing Bicycle Friendly Communities (BFCs). Eighteen communities received their first BFC award – 17 at Bronze and one at Silver. Nine communities moved up to higher award levels, and the remainder renewed at their previous level.
“As biking has become more and more popular, more and more communities are committed to creating safer places to bike,” said Alex Doty, Executive Director of the League of American Bicyclists.
“Winning a Bicycle Friendly Community designation shows a community’s dedication to creating safer and better places to ride your bike.”
This latest round saw strong growth in the top tiers of the program, as Madison, WI, became the 5th Platinum BFC, joining Boulder and Fort Collins, CO, Davis, CA, and Portland, OR. Madison is the first new Platinum community since 2013.
Four communities moved into the Gold tier: Austin, TX, San Luis Obispo and Santa Cruz, CA, and Tempe, AZ. There are now 24 Gold Bicycle Friendly Communities.
There is a strong town-gown connection in the new Platinum and Gold awardees. The University of Wisconsin – Madison was named a Gold Bicycle Friendly University (BFU) earlier this month. Arizona State University in Tempe is also a Gold BFU. The University of California, Santa Cruz, is a Silver BFU, and the University of Texas in Austin is Bronze.
But there is more to the story than a celebration of classic American college towns. The growth of the BFC program ‘demonstrates that communities of all sizes and sorts are harnessing the value of bicycling in cultivating healthy citizens and a healthy, growing economy.’
The autumn/fall 2015 class of new BFCs includes Brownsville, TX, a border city frequently cited among the poorest in the US; Benton and Washington Counties, AR, one of the most Republican-leaning areas of the state and home to the Walmart Corporation; and vacation destinations such as Virginia Beach, VA, Naples, FL, and Fergus Falls, MN.
Monona, WI, is the smallest of the new BFCs, with a population of 7,533; Hennepin County, MN, is the largest, with a population of 1.2 million.
The League adds that state and local cycling advocacy organizations are a key ingredient in improving bike friendliness. BikeAustin and BikeTexas were key partners in Austin and across the state. Eight Wisconsin communities received awards in this round, fuelled by the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin’s efforts. The state has three new BFCs, three communities moving up, and another two renewing their designations.
These new awardees join a leading group of 371 communities in all 50 US states that are improving health, safety and quality of life in cities and towns nationwide. With this new round, 72 million people live in a Bicycle Friendly Community.
The BFC program provides a roadmap for building a Bicycle Friendly Community. Since the program’s inception, more than 800 distinct communities have applied and the five levels of the award – Diamond, Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze – provide an incentive for communities to continuously improve. (There are currently no communities at the Diamond level.)
Communities complete a 100+ question application, which is then reviewed by national experts as well as members of their local cycling community. All applicants receive extensive feedback. Communities must renew their designation every four years.
The Bicycle Friendly Community program is supported by Trek and Trek dealers.
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.’