The state of Washington in 2015 once again earned the top “bicycle friendly” ranking among states, the League of American Bicyclists announced Monday.
This is the eighth year that the league has listed states for “bikeability” based on their scores in a number of categories leading to safe bicycling. As states rise and fall on the list, Washington has earned No. 1 each and every year.
Minnesota finished in the runner-up position for the second year in a row, trailing by less than 4 points out of 100, and Delaware moved up one spot to No. 3. [See all the states below.]
The bottom 3 states on the list: Kansas (48), Kentucky (49), and Alabama (50).
The rankings are based on the states’ scores in five categories — Legislation & Enforcement, Policies & Programs, Infrastructure & Funding, Education & Encouragement, and Evaluation & Planning.
Even though Washington leads the list, its score of 66.2 points out of 100 would barely earn a passing grade on most school report cards.
Receiving news of Washington retaining its No. 1 rank, Transportation Secretary Lynn Peterson said:
“In Washington, we’re focusing on connected communities and sustainable transportation, and bicycling is an important element of that multimodal system. There’s more work ahead, and this recognition tells us we’re on the right path.” [press release]
Barb Chamberlain, executive director of Washington Bikes wrote:
“This top ranking reflects the hard work of many, many people and organizations and we’re proud of what our state has accomplished so far. Now we as Washingtonians need to get work to make Washington even BETTER for bicycling, which makes it better for everyone on the road.”
In announcing the 2015 list of Bicycle Friendly States at the beginning of National Bike Week, league president Andy Clarke said:
“We’re encouraged to see measurable progress and improvement in many states, including Massachusetts (4), Pennsylvania (12) and Utah (5). We hope to see continued improvements as more statewide leaders recognize and invest in the many benefits bicycling has to offer.”
Among western states, Oregon dropped one place into No. 6, and California rose one place into No. 8. Idaho dropped from 20th into 21st, although its score improved slightly by 0.6.
[See 2015 rankings below; also see all state report cards ]
The report card for Washington includes this admonition:
“Washington State must not get complacent. Although Washington State has been #1 for the past 8 years, the gap between #1 and #2 has steadily decreased since 2013. The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) should build upon its past successes by increasing staff capacity for planning, engineering, and implementation of solutions that make bicycling and walking safer and more convenient.”
Pennsylvania made one of the biggest leaps on the list, improving from 19th to 12th. The state received kudos for adopting Act 89, which created a statewide multimodal fund and provides a minimum of $2 million per year for bicycle and pedestrian projects in the state. Meanwhile, the state needs to adequately staff the Bike/Pedestrian Office in the Depart of Transportation.
Oregon (6) should repeal the state mandatory bike lane law. “These types of laws ignore the quality and safety of available bike lanes.”
The report card for California (8) notes: “California has a high number of bicyclist fatalities. Ensure that bicycle safety is a major emphasis in all transportation projects, programs and policies to address this issue.”
In spite of the popularity of major rides like Biking Across Kansas, Kansas dropped to 48th overall in 2015. The report card cites that the state bicycle plan hasn’t been updated in more than 10 years, and there’s no bicycle/pedestrian count program. Also, accommodations should be made for bicycles on bridge and tunnel projects.
Last place Alabama received this note on its report card: “Alabama currently has few people who regularly use a bicycle for transportation and a high fatality rate based on those who do. Without incorporating bicycling as a transportation option into future plans Alabama may continue to miss out on the health, economic, and community benefits of bicycling.”