58 New and Renewing Bicycle Friendly Communities Raising the Standard for Better Biking
Life is better for everyone when more people ride bikes, and communities across the country are striving to bring this vision into reality. To celebrate that progress, the League of American Bicyclists is recognizing 58 places with Bicycle Friendly Community (BFC) awards for their efforts to build a nation where every person can safely and easily choose to bike.
“Today, we celebrate 58 new and renewing Bicycle Friendly Communities that exemplify an ongoing commitment to make bicycling safe, comfortable, and accessible to all,” said Bill Nesper, executive director of the League of American Bicyclists. “This round of awards is a testament to the dedication of the growing network of changemakers who are responding to the League raising the standard of what it means to be a Bicycle Friendly Community.”
In total, this round includes one Platinum community, seven Gold, 18 Silver, 32 Bronze, and eight Honorable Mentions. Of the 66 communities receiving recognition, nine are brand new to the program. Three of our first-time applicants received a Bronze-level BFC status, while the other six started strong with an Honorable Mention. Two communities are receiving Honorable Mention status for a second time. We were proud to see two returning Honorable Mentions rise up to the Bronze level, alongside 27 renewing Bronze communities.
Three communities moved up from Bronze to Silver, while 15 Silver-level awardees renewed their status. Seven cities and towns took home the Gold-level award including six renewals and one moving up from Silver. Our one Platinum under review in this round, Madison, WI, renewed its top-tier status. See the full list of new and renewing awards and honorable mentions in this round here.
Within this round, several communities moved the needle on their award designation. In particular, the newly upgraded Gold-level BFC Arlington, VA stands out as a testament to the dedication it takes to merit an elevated award. Arlington started as a Bronze-level Bicycle Friendly Community in 2003, moved up to Silver four years later, and remained a consistent Silver-level BFC from 2007 up until today.
Since their last Silver-level application in 2019, Arlington has permanently reduced speed limits on 12 arterial streets and 58 local street segments, adopted a Vision Zero Action Plan, and published their Vision Zero Multimodal Safety Engineering Toolbox with engineering strategies for speed and traffic management. In addition to engineering details that have made Arlington’s roads safer for all roadway users, the County has worked with local partners to steadily increase bike education for all ages. One hundred percent of Arlington Public Schools (APS) elementary schools provide on-bike education, reaching approximately 2,000 students annually. APS provides a fleet of bikes to schools, including adaptive cycles for children with disabilities, to ensure that every student has access to on-bike learning. Along with education and infrastructure, another factor that supported Arlington’s new Gold-level status includes its investment in expanding equitable access to the local bike movement. According to Arlington’s 2023 application, “The BikeArlington program funds a 1/2-time position solely dedicated to Equity outreach through the Capital Bikeshare Community Partners Program that includes both on-bike instruction and Spanish-language translation for low-income residents and those underrepresented in the bike community.”
Gold-level BFC San Luis Obispo is another community that consistently makes outstanding progress toward elevating its award status – inching towards Platinum with every round. In their application, San Luis Obispo says, “Since our last BFC application, the city has placed Public Works, Community Development, and Parks & Recreation under one umbrella division known as Community Services so that there is better communication among these departments that share so much in providing bike services to the community from building and maintaining our streets, to open space trails, to providing classes and activities for those with accessibility challenges on a bike.”
A BFC award at any level isn’t meant to be a one-and-done achievement – it’s a legitimate inquiry into the community’s commitment to better biking over time. The League’s goal is to reflect the best practices in the field, and we encourage communities to continue re-applying over time to stay accountable to their action plan and to maintain their award level. BFC awards are only retained for four years, then a BFC must reapply for designation (excepting any extenuating circumstances.)
The four-year reapplication cycle is crucial for another reason: the BFC application is continually updated as an assessment and benchmarking tool for what it means to be “Bicycle Friendly”. Notably, we added an Equity & Accessibility section along with new awards criteria to the BFC application in 2022. It includes new questions that require communities to think critically about their practices and identify areas to improve. Brookhaven, GA, a community that received an Honorable Mention, shared, “Overall, working on this application and determining what options are feasible for our community has allowed us to start making a work program to implement strategies to overcome our insufficiencies. We have a lot of goals over the next few years to work towards.”
As part of their participation in the BFC program, every community that applies receives a detailed Report Card highlighting their strengths and weaknesses on the application and providing the League’s recommendations on how to improve. BFC Report Cards are published on the BFA Awards Map and communities can learn more about the data provided through the League’s updated Guide to the BFC Report Card.
Together with our network of Bicycle Friendly Communities, the League is designing a roadmap for communities to join us in building a more Bicycle Friendly America for everyone. In being accountable to our increasing standards, this round comes with the removal of 32 BFCs whose last applications in or before 2015 do not include many of the benchmarks we have added over the years. We look forward to reviewing these communities’ BFC status should they reapply. See the full list of current and past Bicycle Friendly Communities here. Any community that needs to renew to stay on the list, or return to it, can start their renewal application and submit by June 25, 2024 to be reviewed in the next round.
About the Bicycle Friendly Community℠ Program
Bicycle Friendly Community awards reflect local leaders’ ongoing work to build better places to bike and evaluate those efforts as part of a national movement. Each of the five levels of the Bicycle Friendly University award – diamond, platinum, gold, silver, and bronze, plus an honorable mention category – provide a clear path for cities and towns to continuously improve. Visit bikeleague.org/community to learn more about the BFC program.
About the League Of American Bicyclists
Since 1880, the League of American Bicyclists has been people-powered, with a goal to make bicycling safer and easier as a means of transportation and recreation. Today, the League continues to improve lives and strengthen communities through bicycling. We are more than 200,000 members and supporters strong with more than 1,000 state and local advocacy groups and bike clubs as well as thousands of businesses, universities, and communities together leading the movement to create a Bicycle Friendly America for everyone.