Washington Tops List of Bike-Friendly States

Cyclists in rainy Washington state enjoy the rosiest climate for cycling, while hilly West Virginia presents the most obstacles for its two-wheeled travelers. Those are the findings from this year’s Bike Friendly States program from the League of American Bicyclists.

Washington got a "D" for infrastructure but scored high marks for legislation and other categories to claim the top spot in the League of American Bicyclists' Bike Friendly States program. Photo: ##http://www.bikingbis.com/blog/_archives/2011/5/23/4823245.html##Biking Bis##

Washington was joined by a regionally diverse set including Maine, Wisconsin, Minnesota and New Jersey, respectively, in the League’s top five spots. The Northeast, Northwest and Midwest dominated the top half of the list. Meanwhile, rural and Southern states continued to be overrepresented at the bottom. The lowest-ranking states were Montana, Alabama, Arkansas, North Dakota and West Virginia.

Each state was graded in six categories: legislation; policies and priorities; infrastructure; education and encouragement efforts; evaluation and planning; and enforcement.

Network blog the Kansas Cyclist took the time to investigate its state’s ricocheting rankings and has some interesting insights for the majority of states which populate the list’s middle-ground:

When we interviewed Andy Clarke, president of the League of American Bicyclists, on the podcast (episode #21), and asked about why Kansas’ ranking had jumped 20 places last year (from #33 to #13), he said that while there is a big difference between the few states at the top of the list and the few states at the bottom, there wasn’t much separating the states in the middle, so those ranks could be expected to fluctuate quite a bit from year to year. Kansas was #25 in 2008, #33 in 2009, #13 in 2010, and now #23 in 2011, so we are indeed bouncing up and down a bit in the rankings, but overall not changing much.

This year the League placed additional emphasis on the states’ use of federal bike and pedestrian funds. States were penalized if they failed to use a disproportionate amount of their federal bike-ped money during the rescission process.

That emphasis was kind to Maine, which has risen from sixth place to the number two spot since 2008.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Biking in LA reports on a new map showing the location of traffic injuries in the city — and how it helps visualize how much work needs to be done to make LA safe for pedestrians and cyclists. Half Mile Circles examines the potential for transit oriented development around bus stops. And Urban Review STL explores how regional and national demographic trends are reshaping St. Louis.

  • Tacoma Native

    I lived and biked around the cities of Tacoma, Olympia and Seattle from 1995-2000 and I must say even without much infrastructure the number one reason I had such an easy time is that the police enforce traffic laws and they bike. The drivers are mostly good, too and know how to drive safely around cyclists. I miss those days. 

  • MRN

    I’m a Seattle native, and yes, biking there is much easier because drivers behave, compared to east coast drivers, exceptionally courteously. Drivers there are OK with sacrificing 3 minutes of their commute to wait for a pedestrian at a crosswalk, yield to a cyclists navigating around parked cars, and almost never double park. A sight to be hold. If only these gorilla New York drivers could fathom a system that doesn’t revolve around themselves and their needs exclusively.

  • Unfortunately in Florida

    Florida was ranked #7… has anyone involved in this study ever been to Florida outside of select regions of Miami and the Keys? If all those other states are really worse than Florida, the problem of bike-friendliness is a bigger problem than I could have ever imagined.

  • I was taken aback by Florida’s ranking also. I would put Florida near the bottom.

  • Elliot

    If federal funds were a special emphasis this year, I’m surprised Arkansas is still in the bottom 5.  They won a $15 million TIGER II grant for a 40 mile bicycle/pedestrian greenway corridor, which was by far the largest sum for a bike/ped project out of the entire TIGER II grant cycle. 

    Granted, Arkansas doesn’t have much now… but seems the LAB could have been nice enough to pull them out of the basement.

  • New Jersey is now #5?!?!  Really?!?!  I could  see 9 or 10 but 5?!?!

    I’m not feeling the love or seeing the facilities while on the road in NJ.
    Our laws could also use a MAJOR tune-up too but possible movement on this
    seems unlikely in the legislature.  Despite that we get a “B” for legislation, legislation and programs.

    And we continue to outrank California?!?! You got to be kidding me!
    I’m starting to wonder about how good the LABs rankings really are.

  • I recently moved to San Francisco from Seattle and I’ll second this. The infrastructure and popular support here in SF is way better than Seattle, but the drivers! I know everyone likes to say the drivers in their town are the worst, but I’ll say this: there is no double parking in Seattle, and I rarely saw people parking/driving in bike lanes. People rarely honk their horns. The streets are paved well, compared to here. I know, it sounds like paradise, but that’s the case. 

    It’s a weird thing, cause if you read the Seattle Times you’d get the impression that the drivers are all out to murder you and your first born, but it couldn’t be farther from the truth.

    Drivers are generally respectful of the law and polite in the NW, and that goes a long way.

  • Shemp

    Most of the U.S. completely sucks outside of a few small pockets, so these rankings are all relative to a general high level of suckiness – it’s a simple matter of who sucks more and less.  

  • Daphna

    These League of American Bicyclists rankings do not make sense for me.  Maine ranks #1 for infrastructure with a “B”, New Jersey rank #3 with a “D”, Minnesota ranks #7 also with a “D”, and New York ranks #24 for infrastructure with an “F”.  Minnesota has noticeable infrastructure so I can see them getting a decent rank.  But Maine and New Jersey being ranked #1 and #3 respectively for infrastructure??  Where is it??? I have biked in both states and never come across a single bike lane or sharrow.  Whereas in New York City alone, there is more infrastructure for bikes than there is in the whole state of New Jersey, yet New York state ranks #24 for infrastructure.

    I think the number of people biking and the amount of infrastructure are the most important factors to measure when determining bike friendly locations.  But both would have to be measured accurately.

  • Yeah, I wish they went a little more in-depth on their rational behind the rankings. At least for the top states.

  • I
    think the number of people biking and the amount of infrastructure are
    the most important factors to measure when determining bike friendly
    locations.  But both would have to be measured accurately. 

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