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BFS: Programs & Policies

When we examine Policies and Programs as part of our annual Bicycle Friendly State ranking we are primarily looking at the policies that accommodate bicyclists and state staff time for bicycling-related programs. Examples of policies that accommodate bicyclists include complete streets policies, facility design guidelines, bicycle parking policies, and bridge and tunnel access policies.

The major trend that has affected the Policies and Programs category over the course of the Bicycle Friendly State ranking has been the rise of complete streets policies. Since 2008, 19 states have adopted complete streets as recognized by the National Complete Streets Coalition. However, in the past year only one state, Alaska, adopted a new state complete streets policy, but many states improved their Policies & Programs category score. 

A more recent trend has been the spread of innovative facilities. Facility guidelines like the NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide and Urban Street Design Guide have been making it easier for states to adopt design guidelines that include bicyclists. Initiatives like the Green Lanes project have helped make the case in cities and perhaps paved the way for reconsideration of state policies. We expect this trend to continue to gain strength as cities realize the benefits of smart growth policies and the ability of attractive bicycle infrastructure to contribute to congestion and environmental improvements.

As cities push boundaries states should follow, but the Bicycle Friendly State ranking is looking out for policies that affect rural bicyclists as well through issues such as rumble strip design policy.

Through our Bicycle Friendly State ranking we hope to push states to adopt policies that improve bicyclist accommodations and devote more staff time to bicycling-related programs. There are many ways that states can take action to improve the ability of bicyclists to ride safely and comfortably. Good policies that accommodate bicyclists – like Complete Streets policies – and commitments to bicycling-related programs – like designating a Transportation Alternatives Program Manager – make it easier and safer to be a bicyclist.

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