Find local advocacy groups, bike shops, instructors, clubs, classes and more!

Find by Zip Code or City, State
Find by State
Find based on current location

March Madness: Your Bicycle-Friendly Final Four

How do you fill out your NCAA college basketball tournament bracket? Do you follow historical trends? Maybe you use a complex algorithm. More likely you go by mascot or uniform – because let’s be honest, who’s really seen all these teams play?

But what if you could use your love of bicycling to guide your choices and possibly lead you to bracketological glory? Well, that’s where the official 2011 Bicycle Friendly America Bracket Guide comes in. Thanks to our new Bicycle Friendly University (BFU) Program, we can tell you which schools are champions of bicycle-friendliness.

The first ever Bicycle Friendly Universities were announced last week at the National Bike Summit. Five of the 20 Bicycle Friendly Universities made it to the tournament, along with four campuses that received an Honorable Mention. To make sure we had representation from each region on the bracket, for tie-breakers, and to make things more interesting, we also consider Bicycle Friendly Community (BFC) status and whether the campus is a Bicycle Friendly Businesses (BFB).


We put all this data into our computers – we have a room full of statisticians on hand just for this purpose – and arrived at the dead-on, can’t miss, sure thing Bicycle Friendly Final Four.

Before we show you the results, let’s see how BFU’s are distributed across the bracket’s regions. All predictions are based solely on bicycle-friendliness. We’ll leave basketball predictions to ESPN. Note that Bicycle Friendly University status is favored over Business and Community recognition in our predictions.

NCAA bracket 2011


The first head-to-head bicycle-friendly challenge won’t come in the east until the elite eight when Washington faces Kentucky. The University of Washington is a Silver Bicycle Friendly University in Gold BFC Seattle. The University of Kentucky campus is a Silver Bicycle Friendly Business in Bronze BFC Lexington, KY – they also received an Honorable Mention for BFU. This will be a tough match up.

We expect Washington’s Silver BFU status to carry it through.


In the second round in the west, Texas, which received a BFU Honorable Mention, will take on Silver BFU Arizona. Silver-rated Arizona will advance to face Honorable Mention BFU and Bronze BFC (Durham) Duke. Duke ranks in two categories, while Arizona ranks highly as a BFU and is located in Gold-level Tucson. This will be another tough match up. By vigilantly ignoring basketball talent, we’ll give the advantage to Arizona.

BFU Honorable Mention Cincinnati will cruise into the Elite Eight, where we expect them to be bested by Arizona, who will advance to the Final Four.


The Southwest presents a challenge for us. There are no Bicycle Friendly Universities in the region, but there are a number of Bicycle Friendly Communities. Kansas is located in Bronze BFC Lawrence. Florida State is in Bronze BFC Tallahassee. Notre Dame is in Bronze BFC South Bend. Bronze BFC Washington, DC is the home of Georgetown.

The competition here will come in the Sweet Sixteen, when Illinois – based in Champaign (BFB for city government and their Mass Transit District) and Urbana (Bronze BFC) – sees Louisville, a BFC and BFB.

This is another tough one, but we’re going with Louisville.


The southeast is home to some heavy hitters. Michigan State is a Bronze BFU. They will face UC Santa Barbara in the second round. Santa Barbara is stacked. The university is a Gold BFU and a BFB, and the city is a Silver BFC.

Santa Barbara will go on to face Wisconsin in the Elite Eight. The University of Wisconsin is a Silver BFU and a Silver BFB in Gold BFC Madison. This is the throw-down of the tournament so far. Both locations have BFU, BFB, and BFC clout. For the tie-breaker, we’ll go the Bicycle Friendly State (BFS) ranking. For two years in a row Wisconsin was the second highest ranked BFS.

Advantage Wisconsin.


We now present to you our Bicycle Friendly Final Four selections. You can dispute these conclusions and come up with your own list and your own choices. But you wouldn’t doubt science, would you?



The University of Washington has both quality and quantity when it comes to their end of trip facilities including 600 bike locker spaces, 2 card-access bike cage stations, a bike-parking ordinance and DIY bike repair stations around campus.  UW hosts a number of well attended bike-related events including the “ride in the rain” event, enforcement outreach and Bike to Campus Month.  The U-Powered U-PASS program provides incentives to people who regularly bike commute including local discounts, commuter challenge prizes, free bicycle education classes and campus shuttle access.



The University of Arizona has put a lot of effort in to education and enforcement on campus, exemplified by their “light the night” bike light give-away and permanent student-run bike valet station. The first month of every semester focuses on education, while the second month follows-up with targeted enforcement. Bicyclists receiving a citation are able to take a safety course as a diversion program. With 5 full time staff and 10 part-time students working on the bike program at the University of Arizona, they are continuing to expand their campus bike-share program and beginning to development a Master Plan.



Louisville’s Mayor hosted the first-ever regional Bicycle Summit in Louisville in 2005 and the city has been picking up steam since then, including the creation of a bicycle task force.  The city has committed to $85 million in projects over the next ten years with over $20 million already raised and matched by private donors. The city is developing a 100-mile “Metro Loop” trail to encircle the entire county, more than half of which is either complete or under development.



The University of Wisconsin offers guaranteed ride home and bike locker packages, they regularly distribute safety materials and provide smart trip route planning for employees.  With over 10,000 spots scattered in front of nearly every building on campus, bike parking is ubiquitous in the form of bike lockers, bike cages and covered bike racks. The campus has a number of events over Bike to Work Week, including bike-in movies and an organized ride led by the University’s Vice Chancellor.  UW Madison also refurbishes donated bikes to continually expand their campus bike-share program.


So there you have it.

Washington, Arizona, Louisville, and Wisconsin WILL make it to the final four. It’s pretty much a sure thing. Or at least as likely and picking which team has the coolest name.

Also, see March Madness for Urbanists.

Posted in