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Updating what it takes to be a Bicycle Friendly Community

Since the Bicycle Friendly Community program originally launched in 1995 and then relaunched in 2003, our application has consistently evolved to reflect our collective understanding of what makes streets safer and more comfortable and accessible to more people who bike. Many communities use the program application itself as a guide to building a Bicycle Friendly Community inclusive of the 5 Es of engineering, encouragement, education, evaluation, and equity.  

Over time, as national standards and guidelines have been revised to reflect latest best practices, or as technology has opened up new possibilities on topics like online bike education or automated bike counts, the BFC application has grown and evolved to reflect these incremental changes. 

Amenities like bike share programs and protected bike lanes were barely a concept when the BFC program started but have become standard in many U.S. cities today. This is part of why awarded BFCs are required to renew their designation every four years — the program criteria are evolutionary by design, and communities must keep up with the program to maintain their designations. 

Similarly, we recognize that every so often the program itself is in need of deeper re-evaluation, and so, over the next year the League will be taking some time to do just that. 

While the typical timeline of the BFC review cycle includes two submission deadlines per year, for communities to apply by either February or August, the Fall 2021 Bicycle Friendly Community submission deadline has been extended to September 1st at 11:59pm PT, and there will only be one review cycle for BFC applicants in 2022.

The BFC Application will be offline following the Fall 2021 deadline until late Spring 2022, while the BFA team works with program partners, local and statewide advocates, BFA Equity Fellows, and BFC applicants to update the application and related resources. Among the changes planned for this BFC application update include: 

  • Stronger integration of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI)-related questions and answer options to the BFC application, feedback, and guidance materials for communities. 
  • Revised questions around on- and off-street bike infrastructure, to reflect current national guidance and best practices, and to allow for a more in-depth consideration of the quality and distribution of bike facilities and of a community’s overall bicycling network. 
  • New questions/answer options in each of the 5 E categories to reflect the latest best practices and guidance in those topics, given new technologies and innovations in bicycle programming and infrastructure. 

Early previews of the revised application questions are expected to be available during the 2022 National Bike Summit in March 2022, and the official launch of the revised application is planned for Summer 2022, during next year’s National Bike Month. Related guidance and resource materials will also become available for applicant communities and advocates starting next Summer. 

See below for frequently asked questions about the upcoming BFC program changes. Please keep an eye on for further updates, and contact [email protected] if you have any additional questions or feedback about the upcoming BFC program changes. 

FAQs About the BFC Program Updates

Our Community’s BFC status is supposed to be up for renewal in Spring 2022.  When should we submit our renewal application, now that there is no Spring 2022 round? 

If your community last applied to the BFC program in Spring 2018 and would have been up for renewal in Spring 2022, your renewal deadline has been shifted to the Fall 2022 round. Any renewing communities that only have capacity to apply during the winter/spring seasons can request an extension to Spring 2023 instead. 

Similarly, communities that have needed more time to renew their 2016 or 2017 BFC designations over the last year due to COVID-related challenges or other unforeseen circumstances have been granted extensions to accommodate later renewals. Please contact [email protected] if your community needs a renewal extension.

Will I still be able to access my community’s previous BFC application(s) during and after these updates? 

Yes, existing Bicycle Friendly Communities and recent applicants (any BFC applicant since Fall 2016) will still be able to log in to access and view their previous BFC submissions through the online BFA application portal while the current BFC application is offline, as well as after the updates go live next Spring. The League also has PDF copies of all historical BFC applications submitted, and copies can be requested by emailing [email protected]

Our community has an application in progress but we won’t be able to submit it before the Fall 2021 deadline. What will happen to our online form? 

Current applicants with online forms in progress after the Fall 2021 deadline (not submitted by September 1st) will still have their same forms in progress when the application reopens in Summer 2022, but may lose some work on any questions that are substantially updated during the updates.  We will send an email out to all current applicants next Spring when the updates are live to inform them of detailed changes. 

Do these changes impact Bicycle Friendly Business or Bicycle Friendly University applicants? 

No, these changes are only for the Bicycle Friendly Community program; the Bicycle Friendly Business and University programs’ applications and review cycles will be unaffected next year. There will still be 3 Bicycle Friendly Business submission deadlines in 2022, and one Bicycle Friendly University submission deadline in 2022

How can I make sure I’ll find out when the BFC application reopens?

Sign up to be notified when the BFC application reopens next Spring here

What if my question isn’t answered here? 

Please contact us at [email protected]!