New Bicycle Friendly Communities announced by League of American Bicyclists

Recently, the League of American Bicyclists announced 65 new and renewing Bicycle Friendly Communities (BFC) for 2017, making the total 430 BFCs in all 50 states.

The Bicycle Friendly Community program aims to provide a roadmap to improving conditions for cycling and guidance to make bikeable communities a reality. The program identifies 10 Building Blocks that make communities great for cycling, including bike lanes, bicycle education in schools, bicycle advocacy groups, bicycle-friendly laws and community bike events. A full list and description of metrics can be found here.

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The BFC is one of several Bicycle Friendly America programs run by the League of American Bicyclists. Others include the Bicycle Friendly State, Business, and University programs.

The Bicycle Friendly Community program started in 1995.

“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.”

As the League’s press release states:

Renewing Platinum BFCs include Portland, Oregon and Boulder, Colorado. One of the aspects that made Portland’s application stand out is its 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, Mississippi, has passed an ordinance requiring motor vehicle drivers to give a five-foot buffer when passing cyclists. Bath, Maine, 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.

Renewing Bronze BFC, Boca Raton, Florida, 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, Washington, 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.”

Renewing Bronze BFC, Northampton, Massachusetts, 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, Mississippi, 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 the 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. To apply or learn more about the BFC program, visit bikeleague.org/community.

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