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State Trends: Education & Encouragement

Last week, we announced our 2014 Bicycle Friendly State Ranking and, to give you greater insight into the annual assessment, we’re breaking down each of the categories and identifying key trends.

Education & Encouragement is a category in which many states excel. This can be seen in the strong growth in Signs of Success associated with the Education & Encouragement category.

Two Signs of Success in particular, that are already widespread, continued to see significant growth:

  1. 45 states now have statewide advocacy groups, including three new groups that became active in the past year; and
  2. 43 states now promote a “Share the Road” campaign that promotes mutual respect and responsibility between road users, including five states that launched a campaign in the last year.

In addition to these, there’s been strong and growing support for Bike Month, Bike to Work Day, Bike to School Day, and statewide biking and walking conferences. In fact, 47 states reported that a state agency promoted or encouraged Bike to School Day (being celebrated today!).

Education & Encouragement activities may involve fewer longterm commitments from state agencies. This year, there was quite a bit of improvement, with 12 states gaining at least one point in their category score. But there was also quite a bit of regression, too, with six states losing at least a point in their category score. A lot of the variation occurred in states that currently or in the past scored a three or four in this category.

Why the up and down? Many states have shown their commitment to Education & Encouragement through, for instance, Bike to Work Day events — but they don’t always do these events consistently. Advocates and bicyclists can ensure states continue these activities by participating and taking an active role in making these events and campaigns successful. Be partners with the state in supporting bicycling and, while Education & Encouragement may require less commitment than other aspects of the BFS ranking, work with officials to ensure these events are built upon — rather than just trial efforts by the state.

Read yesterday’s analysis on the Legislation & Enforcement category — and stay tuned for more this week.