BFA Enforcement FAQs & Resources
Update on 'Enforcement' in the 5E Framework
Published October 2020
For nearly 20 years, “Enforcement” has been included as one of five pillars in the Bicycle Friendly America program’s 5 E Framework.
Effective June 9, 2020, the "Enforcement & Safety" section of the Fall 2020 BFC application was taken offline to allow the League to assess all Enforcement-related questions and begin to determine how the BFC program can best contribute to policy and cultural changes that reduce the potential for police violence and discriminatory enforcement.
In August 2020, we re-published an updated version of the Fall 2020 BFC application and the 2020 BFU application mid-round, with key changes that fundamentally shifted how enforcement is framed in those applications. Some enforcement-related questions remained offline while the majority were revised and integrated into other sections of the applications. See the complete list of the before-and-after versions of all updated BFC questions here.
In October 2020, with the opening of the Spring 2021 BFC submission round, the League announced that these changes were to become official, including the permanent removal of “Enforcement” as its own pillar within the 5 E Framework. Over the coming year, we will determine what further changes are needed.
Below are answers to many frequently asked questions about this program update, as well as links to resources and information for advocates and BFA applicants.
If you have questions that aren't answered below, or would like to provide the League with feedback or comments, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
BFA Enforcement FAQs
Q: Enforcement is no longer one of the 5 ‘E’s, will my community lose credit because police implement bicycle safety programming?
A: No, many communities use police for bicycle safety programming and current funding systems support police involvement in bicycle safety programming. If you have an effective program implemented by police then please continue it. If your program has struggled to reach all areas of your community and all demographic groups, consider what can be changed to more effectively engage all areas and demographic groups.
Q: Enforcement is no longer one of the 5 ‘E’s, should I stop working with police as an LCI or advocate?
A: No, police are important members of communities and can be strong advocates for safe streets. Police need to understand bicycling and working with them is part of creating that understanding.
Q: Enforcement is no longer one of the 5 ‘E’s, does that mean the League of American Bicyclists does not support policing?
A: No, policing and enforcement have a role in traffic safety. Removing “Enforcement” as one of the 5 categories in our Bicycle Friendly Community program reflects the League’s view that traffic safety must be about more than enforcement and that enforcement alone is not one of the five most important categories of activities that communities should take to improve bicycling.
Q: Enforcement is no longer one of the 5 ‘E’s, does that mean the League of American Bicyclists no longer promotes each bicyclist’s right to the road?
A: No, the League believes that each bicyclist has a right to the road. Currently too many people are denied that right by governments who do not plan, design, and build safe places to bike.
Data on policing is very limited, but what data exists indicates that enforcement is not a significant factor in securing bicyclists’ right to the road. In Florida, one of if not the most dangerous states for bicycling, only 113 citations were issued for unsafe passing of a bicyclist in 2019. In contrast, there were more than 3,000 citations given to people biking for things like failing to ride far to the right, riding more than two abreast, and not wearing a helmet.
Traffic laws continue to be important for the rights of bicyclists, but they are most often invoked after a crash in either a prosecution decision or civil case. The League plans to continue to keep its bike law resources updated and continue to advocate for the rights of bicyclists.
Q: Enforcement is no longer one of the 5 ‘E’s, does that mean the League of American Bicyclists does not believe in traffic safety?
A: No, the League strongly believes in traffic safety. The League believes that a safe systems approach, embraced by many countries throughout the world with better traffic safety records than the United States, offers the best chance to improve traffic safety.
The United States has a significantly worse record of traffic safety than other high income nations. It is important to demand significant changes to our nation’s approach to traffic safety in order to improve traffic safety. Enforcement has been the primary approach to traffic safety in many jurisdictions and receives the majority of funding administered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The United States needs to do better and examine why it has failed to match improvements to traffic safety over the last two decades, including significant increases in bicyclist and pedestrian deaths within the last decade. The League believes doing better means greater examination of enforcement as a traffic safety intervention and an overall change in the culture of the transportation sector to embrace safe systems, where planners, designers, and engineers take significantly more responsibility for safety and individuals are blamed far less for foreseeable behaviors.
Q: Enforcement is no longer one of the 5 ‘E’s, how can my organization support shifting local conversations towards engineering solutions to traffic safety issues?
A: According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, "studies have shown that enforcement is effective in changing behavior for up to 6 weeks, but a combined approach between enforcement, education, and engineering can lead to more permanent behavior changes." If a roadway has a speeding problem, a problem with people failing to yield to pedestrians, or other behavioral issues the League suggests that you advocate for comprehensive solutions with engineering changes as the ultimate goal. Do not accept police or engineers blaming drivers instead of engaging with engineering changes.
Q: Enforcement is no longer one of the 5 ‘E’s, how can we partner with police to increase law enforcement's understanding of bicycling?
A: Police should still understand bicycling and the best way to understand bicycling is to participate in it. Classes taught by League Cycling Instructors can help police understand safe bicycling behaviors and what to watch for in their community for bicyclist safety.
Whether involved in traffic enforcement or not, police can be incredible advocates and ambassadors for street safety. Police often see traffic violence up-close and that perspective is crucial for public understanding of traffic violence. Police with experience bicycling will be stronger advocates for comprehensive traffic safety solutions that include engineering changes. Police can also speak to the difficulty of enforcing your way out of unsafe street designs that reliably lead to illegal and unsafe behaviors like speeding.
Q: Enforcement is no longer one of the 5 ‘E’s, how can I share this with our city engineering staff and/or Bike Advisory Committee?
A: We will be publishing more resources to help support this shift over time. The best thing to share right now are these FAQs and Resources as well as our blog post, and be sure to show examples of what this change means in practice using these slides.
Every community will likely have a different context in terms of their current efforts and demographics. This change allows communities to continue to do the work they’re doing, but we hope that each community looks closely at how its enforcement approach may harm or fail to serve the needs of Black and Brown people. That close look may include improving data collection on traffic stops, partnering with community organizations to deliver bicycle safety programming, and replacing armed enforcement with automated enforcement.
Q: Enforcement is no longer one of the 5 ‘E’s, what about unarmed or non-police law enforcement?
A: The League is supportive of communities that are innovating new ways to accomplish traffic enforcement without the use of armed police officers, such as Berkeley, California. As this model is tested in more communities, we hope to add more related resources and case studies, and will consider how to integrate this concept into the enforcement-related questions on the BFC application. Please see our Resources section below under “Alternatives & Solutions” for more information.
Enforcement Resources for BFCs & Advocates
- Safe Routes National Partnership: Dropping Enforcement from the Safe Routes to School 6 E’s Framework
- Vision Zero Network: Active for Racial Justice & Just Mobility More Resources for Bicycle Friendly Communities
- Calbike: Reduce the Role of Police in Traffic Enforcement for the Safety of Everyone
- Wisconsin Bike Fed: The Safe Routes Partnership Removes "Enforcement" from its Mission
- Palmetto Cycling Coaltion: Bike Advodcacy: Equity and a Paradim Shift
- Our Streets Minneapolis: Why we don't Support Traffic Enforcement
- Transportation Alternatives: The Case for Self-Enforcing Streets
- Atlanta Bicycle Coalition: Petition to Remove Police Enforcement from Vision Zero
- Bicycle Coalition of Philadelphia: We Are Dropping Police Enforcement From Vision Zero
- Walk Bike Berkeley: De-policing transportation to create safe streets
- Bike Pittsburgh: Enforcement is No Longer Part of BikePGH's Strategy for Safer Streets
- Bike East Bay: Cut Police Budgets, Invest in Community and Transportation
- Center for Policing Equity: a national nonprofit organization eliminating bias in policing by measuring it
- Create Fair and Effective Policing Practices from The Opportunity Agenda: Transforming the System
- A Toolkit for Promoting Justice in Policing from PolicyLink and The Center for Popular Democracy
- Vera Institute of Justice: Ending Police Violence and Ensuring Accountability
- Changelab Solutions: Equitable Enforcement to Achieve Health Equity
- The Movement for Black Lives (M4BL): Resources and Messaging Guidance
Policing Data & Research:
- Stanford Open Policing Project: Data and Policing Publications (Summary of Findings)
- Campaign Zero: Police Use of Force Policy Analysis
- The Lancet Medical Journal: Police violence and the built harm of structural racism (2018)
- Vera Institute: What Policing Costs: A Look at Spending in America's Biggest Cities
- Bureau of Justice Statistics: Traffic Stops
- ACLU Illinois: Traffic Stop Data Shows Persistent Patterns of Racial Bias, According to New Report (2014)
- Report: Bicycle Citations and Related Arrests in Minneapolis 2009-2015
- D.C. Policy Center: Predominately Black Neighborhoods in D.C. Bear the Brunt of Automated Traffic Enforcement
Safety Data & Research:
- Policing the Open Road: How Cars Transformed American Freedom (2019)
- Pulled Over: How Police Stops Define Race and Citizenship (2014)
- Bicycling Magazine: Black Cyclists Are Stopped More Often Than Whites, Police Data Shows (2020)
- Spotlight PA: Racial profiling in traffic stops? We won't know, because Pa. State Police no longer track racial data (2019)
- Vanity Fair: What the Data Really Says About Police and Racial Bias (2016)
- Minneapolis StarTribune: Mpls. police to begin tracking race, gender on traffic, other stops (2016)
- ProPublica: Deadline Force, in Black and White (2014)
- MotherJones: Biking While Black (2002)
- Government Technology: Tracking Traffic-Stop Data (2001)
Unarmed/Non-Police Traffic Enforcement Solutions
- Streetsblog CAL: Reducing the Role of Police in Traffic Enforcement Could Increase Traffic Safety for Everyone (8/31/20)
- Bike East Bay/Medium: Police-Free Systems are Possible (8/18/20)
- Walk Bike Berkeley: De-policing transportation to create safe streets (7/11/20)
- Streetsblog SF: Berkeley Considers Shifting Traffic Enforcement to a New DOT (6/30/20)
- Forbes: Berkeley Will Become 1st U.S. City To Remove Police From Traffic Stops Unarmed Traffic Enforcement (6/15/20)
- The Atlantic: Unbundle the Police (6/11/20)