Change Is Coming to the Bicycle Friendly Community Awards!
This month, we launched a freshly revised and enhanced application for communities applying for new and renewing Bicycle Friendly Community® awards. We’ve made major updates to add and integrate equity and accessibility, and emphasize the importance of building and connecting low-speed and low-stress bike networks, all while providing communities with the resources and guidance to meet these higher standards for what it means to be a Bicycle Friendly Community.
In updating and enhancing the application for Bicycle Friendly Communities, our goal is to reflect the best practices in the field and raise the standard for what it means to be a Bicycle Friendly Community.
The BFC application has been offline since September 2021 to allow for the first major overhaul of the application since 2016. Because the BFC program is both an awards program and an advocacy tool, we’ve used the revision period to listen, learn, and engage with communities and local advocates about what the new application should include. Over nearly six months, the League conferred with hundreds of local cyclists, advocates, and local officials who use the BFC program to improve conditions for cycling in their community about potential updates, in addition to conducting research and analysis on best practices and forward-looking standards.
As bike advocates, we have a responsibility to all people who ride bikes, or who want to ride bikes, to make sure that our standards for communities reflect the latest guidance and best practices that create safe, cohesive, low-stress bike networks and foster inclusive and representative biking cultures in communities of all shapes and sizes. With this update, we wanted to make sure that the BFC application, the awards criteria, and the resources and guidance available to applicants and local changemakers who use the program, are all keeping up with the times and all reflect the current state of opportunities and challenges that exist in our evolving bike movement.
What are some of the biggest changes to the application?
The new Equity & Accessibility section is perhaps the biggest change on the application, but some other notable updates include:
- Changing what and how we ask communities to report about the bicycle network, to emphasize the connectivity and cohesion of on- and off-road bike facilities, as well as the quality and comfort of the bike network.
- A much greater emphasis on the people and groups that help make a community more welcoming, supportive, and inclusive to all current and potential cyclists. For example, we have added new questions about community partners and partnerships to recognize that it takes active participation and collaboration among many local partners to build a Bicycle Friendly Community. The BFC application has always been designed to help foster communication among the various local agencies and groups involved in making biking better, and now we’re expanding on that to help emphasize how to do this work at an even greater scale to build authentic partnerships beyond the biking community and show how bikes can help a community achieve so many goals.
- Providing more guidance and resources to applicants within the application itself, including worksheets to help calculate some of the numbers and tallies we ask for, a glossary of terms and acronyms used on the application, and more immediate feedback mechanisms including links and resources when a community reports that they don’t currently have any of a certain kind of activity or effort that the application asks about.
The updated Bicycle Friendly Community application is online and available to communities and advocates right now! Check it out »
All new BFC applicants and current BFCs who are due (or overdue) for renewal in 2022 are welcome to apply in either the Fall 2022 submission round (due September 29, 2022) or the Spring 2023 submission round (due February 15, 2023), with no lapse in their current award status. In the fall, we’re excited to begin rolling out even more updates to the BFC awards including a new BFC Report Card, updated Quick Assessments for all BFA programs, and other new and updated resources.
To learn more about the BFC program and its updates, watch one (or more) of the following webinars »