Read through these FAQs to learn more about the program and how to apply.
Simple steps to make bicycling safe and comfortable pay huge dividends in civic, community and economic development. Given the opportunity to ride, residents enjoy dramatic health benefits, reduced congestion, increased property values and more money in their pockets to spend in the local economy. When your community welcomes bicycling, tourism booms, businesses attract the best and the brightest, and governments save big on parking costs while cutting their carbon emissions.
A community recognized by the League as a BFC℠ is one that welcomes cyclists with trails, bike lanes, share the road campaigns, organized rides, Bike to Work Day events and so much more. A rich matrix of options that recognizes your area’s unique resources, the BFC application evaluates how your community encourages people to bike for transportation and recreation through the five Es: engineering, education, encouragement, enforcement, and evaluation.
The popularity of the program speaks for itself: As of 2016, more than 700 communities have applied, and 372 have been awarded a Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum designation. But, even if your community doesn’t quite make the grade yet, applying is well worth the time. The application process will help your community create new partnerships and momentum for bicycle improvements, allow you to gather essential bicycle-related data in one place, and the result will show your political leadership how their community stacks up against similar communities all over the nation. In addition, each applicant receives customized feedback and technical assistance.
The Bicycle Friendly America Resource page contains several reports on the benefits of cycling, design guides, case studies and other useful information to aid your application to become recognized by the League as a Bicycle Friendly Community.
Each community that applies to be recognized as a Bicycle Friendly Community completes a thorough application. This application gives the League information about bicycling conditions and efforts to improve those conditions. The report card created for each community features key data from the application and some federal data to provide context for each community. To find explanations of each data point on the community report card, please read our Guide to the Bicycle Friendly Community Report Card.
There are no costs associated with the application at this time.
Any municipality, county, Census Designated Place, military base, regional planning agency or Indian Country can apply to the BFC℠ program. Usually, a community official responsible for bicycling issues completes the application. However, much of the application can be completed by anyone familiar with what a community has done for bicycling as long as the community’s governing body approves its final submission. Often, the most complete applications come from communities where city officials, public agencies and local cyclists work on it together.
No, new and renewing applicants fill out the same application form.
There are two deadlines throughout the year - one in February and the other in August. The next deadline is February 9, 2017 at 11:59pm Pacific time. Applications submitted through the online application site on or before the deadline will be considered for a Spring 2017 designation.
Once an application cycle is completed, applications are send to several cycling experts, advocates and interested cyclists in the applying communities for local feedback. After the local review period, the applications and the local feedback are reviewed by a panel of national bicycle professionals. Applicants will be notified of the result about a week ahead of the public announcement to provide enough time to send out a press release and organize an award ceremony, if desired. All designated communities receive an award certificate, a digital award seal and one Bicycle Friendly Community road sign.
Applicants that just fall short of a designation receive an Honorable Mention. Communities that receive an Honorable Mention are being promoted on the League website for one year. However, they do not receive a certificate, seal or road sign. The names of applicants that do not receive any recognition are not published. All applicants that do not achieve BFC status still receive a detailed feedback report that can be used to work towards a designation next time the community applies.
The BFC award is valid for four years. A BFC needs to reapply in spring or fall of the same year the award expires in order to maintain its status. For example, if your BFC status expires in 2017, you will need to reapply in February or August 2017.
If you are a designated a BFC you may order additional BFC street signs and BFC promotional material in the BikeLeague Store.
Residents and Advocates
But, most communities will take a little more work. Here are the steps to encouraging your community to apply:
- You must identify the decision makers responsible for the policy changes you seek.
- Ask for a letter recommending the Bicycle Friendly Community program from any organization that might be inclined to support better bicycling. The local bicycle club is a natural first choice, but local environmental groups, civic organizations, businesses and others will tend to cooperate if you make it easy enough for them. Draft the letter for them so they know exactly what you need to minimize the amount of work you ask of them.
- Set up a meeting with the decision maker(s) you identified and bring your best spokesperson and copies of the letters of support with you. Talk about the benefits that bicycle improvements as well as the benefits of a Bicycle Friendly Community designation. A good starting point is to ask if the person will submit the application for Bicycle Friendly Community status. One way the city can show its support for building a Bicycle Friendly Community is by adopting the Action Plan for Bicycle Friendly Communities available here.
- Following the meeting, write a thank you memo that spells out your understanding of what was agreed to. Lack of persistence is the downfall of many a bicycle advocate. Motivated people motivate politicians and their employees.