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Taking Bicycle Friendly Actions – Emphasizing Bicyclist Safety in All 50 States

By federal law, each state is required to produce coordinated safety goals that guide the distribution of state and federal funding on safety priorities. One of the most important documents for describing these goals is the Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP). Many states have committed to addressing bicyclist safety by making bicyclist safety an emphasis area in their SHSP.

Strategic Highway Safety Plan White PaperAt the League of American Bicyclists, we think that every state should commit to bicyclist safety by making it an emphasis area in their SHSP. In 2017 we made having a bicyclist safety emphasis area one of our 5 Bicycle Friendly Actions featured in our Bicycle Friendly State program. As we work to create a state-by-state strategy to build a Bicycle Friendly America for Everyone, these 5 Bicycle Friendly Actions provide the building blocks for that strategy. 

States often approach bicyclist safety as if it is a relatively small problem, as seen in a relatively small number of crashes or fatalities compared to all traffic crashes or fatalities. This approach has often meant that states consider interventions such as helmet laws or education as effectively addressing the few crashes and fatalities in their data. However, more and more states are seeing bicyclist safety as not just an issue of the observed traditional safety data, but as something reflected in the many people who express their desire to bike but fear for their safety and so do not bike. This proactive approach to safety is what we hope to see as more states make bicyclist safety an emphasis.

According to data available from the Federal Highway Administration’s SHSP Community of Practice, many states currently make bicyclist safety an emphasis area under a broader category, often “vulnerable users,” which includes people such as pedestrians, motorcyclists, and the elderly. To help states take better actions according to their existing emphasis or to guide them in taking action by adopting bicyclist safety as an emphasis area, the League developed a short white paper  to clearly explain the process of adopting a SHSP and develop actions to proactively address bicyclist safety.

If you are in one of the 14 states that has not yet made bicycle safety an emphasis or you plan to engage your state in its SHSP process to make their existing SHSP better, please let us know so that we can support your campaign with our free-to-members advocacy software and media outreach.

Please use the white paper to advocate for a strong commitment to bicyclist safety in your state. If you are interested in using our advocacy software to support your efforts, please email Ken McLeod at [email protected].