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The BFC Program Public Input Survey Goes (Even More) Public

Since the Bicycle Friendly Community (BFC) program began, getting input from local bicyclists and bike advocates has always been a critical part of how the League assesses each and every community’s efforts to be better for people who bike. As a national organization evaluating local communities all across the country, we can’t personally visit every place that applies to the BFC program (as much as we’d love to!), so it is essential for us to hear directly from the cyclists who ride a community’s streets or trails daily, as well as from the residents and visitors who don’t yet bike but wish they felt safer or more comfortable biking there, to help us better understand what bicycling in each applicant community feels like on the ground. 

That’s where our BFC Public Input Survey comes in. While our methodology for conducting the survey has changed over the years, for the last several years, applicant communities have distributed the survey through their channels and via local advocacy groups. The League has also emailed our members in those communities for their comments and opinions about the applicant communities. 

Now, we want to hear from all of you, wherever you live, about how well your community is doing to be a great place for people to bike. 

While traditionally the BFC Public Input Survey has sought comments on the handful of communities that have applied in a specific BFC award round, we want to broaden our listening and learning from people across the country. That means you are invited to fill out the survey, regardless of whether your community is currently under review in the BFC program, so we can keep a pulse check on national opinions and preferences, across BFCs and non-BFCs alike. You’ll help us identify places that could use a little extra nudge to be better for people who bike. 

Communities currently under review will continue to receive a copy of all the anonymous, aggregate survey responses submitted regarding their community. The survey responses for all other communities will be used to compare and contrast national trends, and to identify communities that could use help from the BFC program to improve further. After all, not every community that applies to the BFC program gets an award, but every community, regardless of award results, receives feedback and guidance from the League to improve. 

 Analysis of past BFC Public Survey responses comparing respondents’ perceptions of safety across BFC award level.

History of the BFC Public Input Survey

Our methods for collecting this input have evolved in more ways than one over the years. In the earliest days of the BFC program, when only a handful of communities were applying at a time, the League maintained a list of several hundred “Local Reviewers” from around the country – local advocates and changemakers who volunteered to provide input whenever their community applied to the program. There was a “Local Reviewer” sign-up form on the League’s website, and people could sign up to be invited to give input to inform the community’s BFC award status and feedback report. As the BFC program grew, the “Local Reviewer” list became more difficult to manage, but more importantly, we realized that it was limiting who we heard from on the ground, obscuring the complete picture, and narrowing the range of perspectives.

In 2016, we revised the public input survey to align with an existing national survey, the 2012 National Survey of Bicyclist and Pedestrian Attitudes and Behavior by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). This revision enables us to benchmark and compare BFC survey responses to national averages. Read our past blog to learn more about this update and the first-year findings. In 2016 we also began to distribute the survey much more widely, so that it would be open to anyone in an applicant community, not just “Local Reviewers” who had signed up before their community applied to the BFC program.

*Make sure your membership status is current so you’ll be notified when YOUR community applies to the BFC program!*

Now, every League member whose ZIP code matches the ZIP codes of an applicant community is invited to complete the survey whenever their community applies, and we also ask each community that applies to help us distribute the survey as broadly as possible to their residents and visitors. We’ve seen communities get the word out about their BFC public survey through press releases, social media, neighborhood listservs, city websites and newsletters, and printed flyers on trails. We’ve also invited our growing network of bike clubs, co-ops, and local and statewide advocacy partners in areas with applicant communities to share the BFC survey with their local networks. As a result of all of this increased outreach, since the 2016 update we have received nearly 70,000 individual survey responses, sharing input on over 700 applicant communities!  

Do you have something to share about your community’s bicycling efforts (or lack thereof)? Fill out the Fall 2022 BFC Public Survey and encourage others in your community to give their input so that we can get the complete picture of what bicycling is like where you live. The Fall 2022 BFC Public Survey is open now through November 6th! 

Want to know when YOUR community applies to become a BFC or renew their existing award? Join the League as a member and we’ll tell you.