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New Bicycle Friendly State ranking shows progress but perils persist
In 2018, more people were killed while biking than in any year since 1990. This continues a tragic trend. After several years of increasing bicyclist deaths, there is still reason to believe we can be safer: every state is taking some action to make bicycling better. Some, but not enough.
First, the good news: our 2019 Bicycle Friendly State ranking finds widespread progress by state Departments of Transportation. The League of American Bicyclists is thankful for this progress and would like to recognize several positive trends:
- Every state has now taken at least one of our five Bicycle Friendly Actions;
- State legislatures are increasingly providing funding for biking and walking improvements and helping state Departments of Transportation ensure that the safety of all users is a core part of their work;
- Eight statewide bike plans have been adopted since 2017 and nine are currently in progress; and
- There is more data available than ever on biking and walking, often thanks to federal and state collaboration.
But, despite these promising trends, there are reasons to be doubtful that states and the federal government are taking the steps necessary to ensure that our transportation networks prioritize people over cars and safety over speed. All too often, commitments to Vision Zero are not reflected in state goals, public health is not considered in project planning, data is not available about biking and walking, and proven safe infrastructure is not supported or built.
To address the systemic issues of America’s transportation sector—which kills more than 30,000 people each year, has the highest emissions of any economic sector, and contributes to chronic diseases related to physical inactivity and vehicle emissions—requires structural changes facilitated by state, federal, and local leadership. We hope that the 2019 Bicycle Friendly State ranking helps state, federal, and local policymakers understand the need for coordinated actions and the building blocks to address these problems that exist in actions that states are already taking.
- In our national report, you can find how state DOTs play a crucial role in the safety of people who bike – as state roads are often the deadliest places for biking, and how many states are only just beginning to reform their decision making, data systems, planning, and infrastructure design to recognize people biking and walking as vital users in our transportation systems.
- In our state report cards for each state, you can learn how state DOTs and state legislatures have taken successful actions and our suggestions for next steps. For each state, we identify our Five Bicycle Friendly Actions that we believe every state should take to make bicycling safer. For the first time ever, all states have taken at least one action and more states have taken all five actions than ever before. You can also find grades for more than 15 sub-categories based on public and survey data and three key federal data indicators for each state.
- In our national ranking, you can find a high-level comparison of states and identify states that are leading or may require additional help. A national ranking map also facilitates comparison.
- In our Bicycle Friendly Action Maps, you can see which states have taken which actions. Of note are the nine states that reported currently being in the process of adopting or updating their statewide bike plan, which shows a recognition that statewide planning is necessary and the movement in many states to take on this task. Learn more about Bicycle Friendly Actions here: https://bikeleague.org/bicycle-friendly-actions and please contact [email protected] if you would like support for a campaign in your state.
The League of American Bicyclists is thankful for all of the state Departments of Transportation that cooperated in our survey, state advocates who helped us understand their needs, and national organizations such as AASHTO, GHSA, and NCSL that facilitate improvements for people biking and walking through research, collaboration, and policymaking. We know that our ranking cannot capture all the good work done by states and we truly appreciate the work done by dedicated people in each state to build a Bicycle Friendly America for Everyone.
The Bicycle Friendly State ranking is published every other year. Our last ranking was in 2017 and we published progress reports that highlighted ten years of federal data on biking in 2018.