The 10 States With the Best Bike Policy Tend to Have One Thing in Common

How does your state measure up on bike policy? The League of American Bicyclists is out with its 2015 state rankings, highlighting the states that are doing the most — and the least — to make bicycling a safe and convenient way to get around. Washington tops the list for the eighth year in a row, with Alabama bringing up the rear.

Here are the top ten:

  1. Washington
  2. Minnesota
  3. Delaware
  4. Massachusetts
  5. Utah
  6. Oregon
  7. Colorado
  8. California
  9. Wisconsin
  10. Maryland

Now, these states aren’t perfect, and most still have their share of highway expansion projects in the pipeline. But most of them have one key thing in common: They’re finally letting cities and towns implement street designs like protected bike lanes, which the American engineering establishment shunned for decades. Of the top ten states, seven have endorsed the National Association of City Transportation Officials’ Urban Street Design Guide. Only one state that has endorsed the NACTO guide is not in the top ten — Tennessee, which the League rated number 20.

The League included the NACTO endorsement in its scoring criteria for the first time this year (much to the chagrin of some members of the old guard). While there are plenty of other criteria that go into the rankings [PDF], at the moment a NACTO endorsement seems to be a very good proxy for a state’s bike-friendliness compared to other states. The League is also using the absence of a NACTO endorsement to ding some states, like New York [PDF], for falling behind.

Two of the big up-and-comers in this year’s rankings were Utah and Massachusetts (both NACTO endorsers). Utah received credit for developing a bicycle master plan and setting goals to increase biking and walking rates. And Massachusetts enacted a transportation bond that designates $400 million for walking and biking projects over the next five years.

The Bike League has put together state-by-state report cards and recommendations, where you can see how your state stacks up.