The League of American Bicyclists recently announced the most Bicycle Friendly Communities (BFC) in the United States, welcoming 65 new members to the growing number of 430 BFCs in all 50 states.
“One of the most amazing things about the Bicycle Friendly Community program is how diverse participating communities are” said Ken McLeod, Policy Director of the League of American Bicyclists. “This round is a great example of that, with towns as small as 588 people and counties of over 2 million. There are places with no bike lanes, but emerging bike cultures, as well as leading Platinum cities. That all of these communities find value in the program speaks to the breadth of the program and its commitment to being a part of creating a Bicycle Friendly America for everyone.”
Portland, OR, and Boulder, CO, have renewed their Platinum BFC statuses. Among other aspects, Portland’s application stood out for their model bike commuter benefit program: “City employees are eligible for the TRIP program, which pays benefits-eligible employees who walk, bike, or carpool $50 per month for doing so or pays $50 of a discounted monthly transit pass.” Portland has high goals for continuing to grow their biking profile, with an “adopted city policy that calls for 25 percent of all commute trips to be by bike by 2035.”
Several communities were notable for their dedication to enforcing and providing education about their safe passing laws. Renewing Bronze BFC Portage, MI, has passed an ordinance requiring motor vehicle drivers to give a five-foot buffer when passing cyclists. Bath, ME, also a renewing Bronze BFC, has taken extra steps to encourage motorists to follow Maine’s 3-foot passing law. Local police and the county sheriff’s department have worked together with the City of Bath Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee to create a motorist education program around the law. The sheriff and the police chief were awarded a “Just Do It” commendation by the Bicycle Coalition of Maine for the support they have shown bicyclists.
Battle Creek, MI, which has moved from Bronze to Silver BFC status, has also been proactive about education and enforcement. The city’s police department requires all new hires to become police bike-certified with yearly updates on their bike training. Both Battle Creek and fellow Michigan community Ann Arbor, a renewing Silver BFC, have more than twenty percent of their patrol officers on bikes. The Ann Arbor police department regularly organizes helmet giveaways and community rides, reflecting the city’s focus on safety for cyclists of all ages.
Renewing Bronze BFC Boca Raton, FL, is committed to “providing more opportunities for education and outreach to younger riders.” The city has offered a three-week bicycle education program that includes off-bike (pedestrian safety) and on-bike (bicycle riding skills) components. Two out of five of the Boca Raton elementary schools received bike education last year. The other three will receive education within the next few years.
Renewing Silver BFC Bellingham, WA, developed a Bicycle Master Plan that created a 170-mile Primary Bicycle Network with “185 individual project recommendations ranging from bike boulevards to buffered bike lanes to cycle tracks on a prioritized list.” The city “strives to provide safe and comfortable bicycle facilities for those ‘interested, but concerned’ about biking on streets with vehicle traffic, but we are also focused on maximizing the connectivity of bicycle facilities throughout the city.”
In March of this year, the Miami-Dade Transportation Planning Organization hosted the first ever Miami-Dade Bike Friendly Summit. Miami-Dade County, a new Bronze BFC, also is working on “a new program to support ‘Quick Build’ tactical urbanism projects that will be implemented in the next 12 months and create new bike lanes and other non-motorized improvements at 18 locations throughout Miami-Dade County.” This is seen as an opportunity to “create excitement for upcoming multi-modal projects.”
Renewing Bronze BFC Northampton, MA, stood out for the quality of their Complete Streets ordinance. The city also uses “a bicycle trash hauling service to pick up trash in our downtown, both because of the benefits of quiet trash pickup and to promote bicycling.”
New Bronze BFC Ypsilanti, MI, doesn’t stop their encouragement efforts in the winter: “Cold weather bicycling classes are held every November and December at the local library to encourage bicycling all year.” When the city’s only bicycle shop closed, “cyclists banded together to form a volunteer bike repair co-op with regular hours.”
With today’s announcement of new and renewed BFC awards, over 85 million Americans now live in a League-designated Bicycle Friendly Community. The next opportunity for communities to apply for the BFC award is in February 2018. T
o apply or learn more about the BFC program, visit bikeleague.org/community.
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