There are two application cycles a year – one in spring and one in fall. A new cycle begins the day after an application cycle closes, so applicants have several months to fill out the online application. After a brief review of the general community profile, the applicant will continue to the audit portion of the application, which asks questions about the community’s engineering, education, encouragement, enforcement and evaluation efforts. We refer to these sections as the Five E's.
This comprehensive inquiry is designed to yield a holistic picture of an applicant community's work to promote bicycling.
Most questions are multiple choice but write-in fields can be used to provide more details. This comprehensive questionnaire is designed to yield a holistic picture of an applicant community's work to promote bicycling. To learn more about the application process, visit the Getting Started page.
After a deadline, the applications are first sent to local reviewers for comment. Local reviewers usually have 2-3 weeks to submit an online review of the applicant. Once all local feedback is received, it is shared with the judging panel. Each judge then takes about 2-3 weeks to review each application, together with any supplemental material and the local feedback. Applications that receive a range of award suggestions are discussed during a review meeting. While taking into what we know about the DNA of a Bicycle Friendly Community, in general:
- Platinum communities usually show excellence across the board. These are the type of communities that have a comfortable and safe bike network, excellent bike parking, great bike education programs, a supportive police force and just people on bikes everywhere.
- Gold communities do have strong bike cultures as well, but may still need to complete their bike network or reach more children with Safe Routes to School programs.
- Silver communities are somewhat welcoming to bikes and are easy to navigate for intermediate and experienced cyclists. But there is still a lot of work left to do in 2 or 3 of the Es.
- Bronze communities might not necessarily feel bike friendly. These communities may only have a couple bike lanes in place and motorists may not yet be aware that they need to share the road with bicyclists. However, important steps are being taken in all five E’s but particularly in one or two Es. For example, a community might have several cycling instructors that give regular cycling skill classes for adults and there is a Safe Routes to School program at most schools.
- Applicants in the Honorable Mention category are just starting to address the needs of cyclists. There are probably few cyclists on the road and most of them will be very experienced. However, there may be a popular shared use path cutting through the community, a popular community-wide bike event or a new bike plan.
- Applicants that do not receive any recognition have yet to address the needs of cyclists.
Bicycle Friendly America
Legal Specialist, Advocacy Advance