League of American Bicyclists Recognizes 45 Cities and Towns with New and Renewing Bicycle Friendly Community Awards
As National Bike Month comes to a close, the League of American Bicyclists is recognizing 45 cities and towns for earning Bicycle Friendly Community awards, plus five communities that earned Honorable Mentions. Two other communities applied in this round but did not receive recognition. All five of the communities earning Gold-level awards this round are renewing Gold-level communities. Only eight of the 45 awardees earned upgrades, with four upgrading to Silver-level status and four upgrading to Bronze from previous Honorable Mentions. One community, Manassas, Virginia, is new to the program and earned a first-time Bronze-level award.
“One of the goals of the Bicycle Friendly America program overall is to encourage communities, businesses, and universities to continue improving conditions for people who bike. Every time we update what it takes to earn a Bicycle Friendly Community award, we see communities respond by building bigger partnerships, investing in infrastructure, expanding their outreach, and more,” said Bill Nesper, executive director of the League of American Bicyclists. “We applaud the 45 Bicycle Friendly Communities that committed to the evaluation process and are striving to build a more Bicycle Friendly America for everyone alongside us.”
With today’s announcement, there are now 506 Bicycle Friendly Communities across the country. The Bicycle Friendly Community program is part of the League of American Bicyclists’ Bicycle Friendly America (BFA) program, which also evaluates states, businesses, and universities. The League and our BFA program have been setting (and raising!) the standard for how places build and benchmark progress toward better bicycling for more than 25 years, receiving over 2,100 applications for new awards and renewals from over 860 unique communities to date.
Bicycle Friendly Community awards are maintained for four years, at which point communities must apply to renew or upgrade their award level. In the interim, it is expected that communities will take steps outlined in guidance and feedback offered by the League to improve their infrastructure, bike education, and equity efforts to be more welcoming to people who bike.
In 2022, the League paused applications to its Bicycle Friendly Community program in order to make updates and raise the standards for what it takes to earn the Bicycle Friendly Community designation. Major updates in the revised application added and integrated questions about a communities’ efforts on equity and accessibility and emphasizes the importance of building and connecting low-speed and low-stress bike networks.
The League hoped the updated application would encourage communities to enhance their work to build a more Bicycle Friendly America for everyone and the Spring 2023 Bicycle Friendly Communities offer an example of how many places are doing just that. In their award applications, a number of communities report new equity initiatives, such as committees or local boards, and equity plans to further develop their bike and pedestrian plans.
In Bloomington, Indiana, a renewing Gold-level community, their efforts to add equity considerations to selecting bike-related projects has made the process more accessible to local residents who want to request projects. Residents there are also heavily involved in promoting safe streets through a traffic calming program that seeks to lower speeds on roads with high bike and pedestrian traffic. In their application, Bloomington indicated 54 percent of their roads have a signed speed limit of 20 MPH or less.
Support for slower speed roads could be found throughout Bicycle Friendly Community applications. In Solana Beach, California, addressing traffic speeds and public safety is one of the most frequent requests of city staff by residents. The renewing Silver-level community reports they are currently conducting a speed survey of their road network to identify adjustments that could be made to speed limits. The city also recently shifted the way it evaluates potential projects to consider “Person Trips” over the car-centered “Level of Service” still used in many places.
Other Bicycle Friendly Communities also report ongoing work to ensure safer roads for everyone through slower speeds such as traffic calming features and roundabouts in Carmel, Indiana (Silver); lower speed limits and looking at redesigning for lower speeds in Park City, Utah (Gold); and a “20 is Plenty” pilot project in Golden, Colorado (Silver).
Across the country, the League is seeing Bicycle Friendly Communities apply for and implement federal funding made available through the Safe Streets and Roads for All program. This new program is an incredible opportunity for communities to expand and improve their infrastructure. From Columbia, Missouri (Silver) to Athens-Clarke County, Georgia (Bronze), communities are utilizing these new resources to build an infrastructure for the future – designed for all people, not only people in cars.
If your city or town would like to join the League in building stronger communities for everyone across America, submissions for the Fall 2023 round of the Bicycle Friendly Community program are due on August 30, 2023, at 11:59 PM PT.
About the Bicycle Friendly Community℠ Program
Bicycle Friendly Community 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 cities and towns to continuously improve. Visit bikeleague.org/community to learn more about the BFC 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.