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Bike Advocacy Roundup: Using State Rankings and Finding Additional Funding

By Matt Wempe

Last week saw the release of the 2012 Bicycle Friendly State rankings and there was a lot of media coverage of the results. We take this as a good sign that the media and people in general are continuing to take notice of bicycling.

Equally impressive is the response from bike advocates across the country, who have been using the rankings and feedback to make the case for bike-friendly policies, programs, and infrastructure.

Over the next few months, we’ll be delving a bit deeper into the BFS data. There’s a lot of interesting trends and stories to share. For now, here are some quick facts that should be useful for anyone looking to move up in next year’s rankings.

  • Complete Streets policies have been adopted in 26 states to create safer, more livable streets for everyone.
  • Safe passing and vulnerable road user laws in 22 states are working to increase awareness of cyclists on the road and provide law enforcement an additional tool to create safer streets. Sixteen of these laws are safe passing, while six are a combination of safe passing and vulnerable road user. Legislation is pending in five states (MI, CA, MA, RI, and CT), with Washington’s law going into effect in July.
  • In order to spend federal safety funds on bicycles, they first have to be in the state’s strategic highway safety plan. Thirty states (including seven of the 10 least safe states for bicyclists) already include bicycles in these plans. Florida deserves credit for being the best at using these funds to address their bike safety problem.
  • Only 15 states have a statewide bicycle plan, a pretty sad statement about how state DOTs treat bicycles as part of the overall transportation system. To be fair, some states do include bicycles as part of their overall transportation plan (though the quality of this inclusion runs from recognizing they exist to just as good as a stand-alone plan).
  • The economic impact of bicycling is becoming one of the most potent arguments to win over state and local officials.  So far 14 states have conducted some sort of economic impact study, most of which are focused on the overall impact to the state’s economy. Two of our favorites? Iowa and North Carolina.

Elsewhere in cycling advocacy…

  • The Missouri Blue Ribbon Committee on Transportation is currently touring the state over the next few months. Their objective is to tackle the current, and very serious, crisis in transportation funding in Missouri and set the direction for a new funding source in the Show Me State. If bicycles and pedestrians are included in this new funding source, it will change everything — for the better. The next meeting is June 1 in Springfield. Visit the Missouri Bicycle and Pedestrian Federation website for the remaining dates.

Have news from your advocacy organization?  Email Matt Wempe, state and local advocacy coordinator, at [email protected].


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