Getting Started

Use the following suggested steps to make the most out of your participation in the Bicycle Friendly Community‚Ą† program. New and returning applicants can find detailed information on how to apply below.


There is one application cycle a year. A new cycle usually 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 reporting portion of the application, which asks questions about the community’s engineering, education, encouragement, equity & accessibility, and evaluation efforts. We refer to these sections as the Five E's. Most questions are multiple-choice. This comprehensive questionnaire is designed to yield a holistic picture of an applicant community's work to promote bicycling.

Public Survey

Following the BFC deadline, the League distributes public surveys to community residents, League members, bike advocates, and bicyclists who may be familiar with each applicant community.

The public survey is distributed in several ways:

  • Applicant communities are asked to distribute the survey locally through their website, newsletter, or social media. (This step is strongly encouraged, but not required for applicants.)
  • The League will send the survey to all local and statewide bike advocates identified on the BFC application, or who are organizational members of the League. Local advocacy organizations are encouraged to complete the survey and distribute it to their members or local networks.
  • All current members of the League who share a zip code prefix with the applicant community will receive the survey link directly from the League via email. To update your mailing address or League membership status, click here.

In the past, the League used a voluntary "Local Reviewer" sign-up process to seek local input on BFC applications. We moved to this new method of involving communities, local bike advocates, and current League members in the distribution of the local reviewer survey in 2016, and have seen a great increase in participation as a result.

In 2016 we also changed the local review survey to align with questions from the 2012 NHTSA Attitudes and Behaviors survey so that our local review process can give us, and applicant communities, an understanding of how their community compares to a nationally representative sample of citizens. You can find an example of how we provided survey results from the over 12,000 people who completed in 2016 on our blog.

The BFC public survey is open to anyone familiar with bicycling conditions in the community, including those involved in submitting the BFC application.

Applicant communities will not be judged on the number of responses received, and public input received does not determine a community's BFC award level.

The public survey is meant to provide local context and perspective for the BFC review team's decision-making process, and is used in combination with the online BFC application submitted by the community. Anonymous aggregate survey results are included in each community's feedback materials following awards announcements.


After a deadline League staff process information provided by a community as follows:

  • Point criteria are automatically applied to most data submitted by an applicant. These criteria determine the majority of each community‚Äôs category scores.
  • League staff retrieves census data on the number of estimated bicycle commuters and the percentage of commuters who bike to work.
  • Certain data is separated and run through separate point formulas. This is done where our criteria depend upon some relative measure that is produced by comparing different data provided by a community or census data.
  • Data is checked for inconsistencies and adjusted if necessary.

Starting in 2016, the League implemented a public input process to provide the opportunity for additional public input on communities. As part of this process, the following actions are taken:

  • An optional public survey link is sent to all communities to be distributed by the community. This link is also sent to any bicycle and pedestrian advocates that a community identified and provided contact information for in its application.
  • The League of American Bicyclists sends an additional survey that provides space for open-ended responses to bicycle and pedestrian advocates that a community identified and provided contact information for, and bicycle and pedestrian advocates who are organizational members of the League.
  • These surveys are typically distributed within 2 weeks of the closing of a deadline and are open for about a month.

Award decisions are made based on:

  • Points assigned to the data by formulas;
  • Personal review of each application by League staff and external reviewers, including supplemental materials;
  • Comparisons to similar communities in our award database, particularly based upon the Building Blocks of a Bicycle Friendly Community and characteristics such as population and type of community; and
  • If necessary, review the public and advocate surveys or direct outreach to local advocates.