39 New and Renewing Bicycle Friendly Universities in 2023
WASHINGTON, DC — Thirty-nine institutes of higher education were certified today in this year’s round of Bicycle Friendly University (BFU) awards, with an additional three institutions earning Honorable Mentions. This cohort of new and renewing awardees join a total of 220 colleges and universities across America working together with the League and local advocates to build stronger communities, safer streets, and better bicycling for everyone.
“Institutes of higher education are key to unlocking the future of safe streets for everyone,” said Bill Nesper, executive director of the League of American Bicyclists. “Today’s students are the next generation of leaders, advocates, engineers, scholars, and innovators. By fostering an environment that promotes safe and accessible cycling, and not only for students, but also staff and faculty, we’re investing in a future that is more welcoming to all people who bike.”
The 2023 cohort represents a broad range of campus sizes. The smallest school evaluated in this round has a student population of just 402, while the largest clocks in at 74,829 students! This tells us the work to improve campus bikeability can be done effectively across a wide variety of institutions, and we’re seeing schools of all sizes leading on better bicycling in their communities.
Another positive trend in this round is the number of Platinum-level Bicycle Friendly Universities – our highest and most prestigious award level. Stanford University, Colorado State University, University of California, Irvine, University of California, Santa Barbara, and University of Wisconsin – Madison are all renewing their Platinum BFU awards, while Boise State University moved up from Gold to Platinum for a total of six Platinum awards in this round.
The rise in higher BFU award levels is an indicator that universities and colleges across the country are investing more into better bicycling. The effects of these efforts are multiplied with the understanding that each campus coexists within a larger community. Universities with higher award levels often work in tandem with local advocates, local businesses, city officials, and the League itself in order to provide a safer, better biking experience on and off campus.
“We have identified being bicycle friendly as critical to our success as a growing institution. As new education buildings and residence halls are constructed, parking is further reduced,” wrote new Platinum-level Boise State University in Boise, Idaho. “Bicycles, and the rest of our active transportation suite that even extends to the county highway district and regional bus system, is the answer to future growth.”
As universities look to the future, their efforts are still being impacted by the past few years of the Covid-19 pandemic. This is particularly true for renewing BFUs, whose applications were last submitted pre-pandemic and faced reporting multiple years of data from an incredibly challenging time. Many campus bike programs lost funding, staff, and existing momentum – making it difficult to benchmark progress and secure ongoing support for desired bike-friendly improvements.
“Covid was a major hindrance in the ongoing improvement of bicycle facilities on campus and has delayed advancement of related infrastructure,” wrote renewing Bronze-level Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, in their application. “The university is determined to bring back the pre-Covid enthusiasm for promoting bicycle culture on campus.”
Many colleges and universities have taken innovative approaches to bouncing back, including the creation of new staff positions to fill gaps in leadership left from the pandemic. “Coming out of Covid, JMU took the opportunity to create and fill the position of Alternative Transportation Manager to encourage students, faculty, and staff to use more sustainable transportation. The ATM has made great progress in her first year on staff and looks forward to continuing to make JMU the best Bicycle Friendly University possible.” writes newly upgraded Silver-level James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia.
Despite the challenges of the last few years, awardees in the 2023 round tell a remarkable story of the resilience and dedication of Bicycle Friendly Universities across the country. Explore our BFU Highlights map below to uncover more inspiration on how universities have taken initiative towards creating a Bicycle Friendly America for all:
If your university would like to join the League’s growing movement to build safe streets for all and a Bicycle Friendly America for everyone, submissions for the 2024 round of the Bicycle Friendly University program are due by August 8, 2024 at 11:59 PM PT.
About the Bicycle Friendly University℠ Program
Bicycle Friendly University 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 businesses to continuously improve. Visit bikeleague.org/university to learn more about the BFU 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.