Washington retains top ranking as most Bicycle Friendly State

For the fifth year in a row, Washington leads the nation as the most Bicycle Friendly State.  The 2012 ranking of Bicycle Friendly States was announced by the League of American Bicyclists in honor of National Bike Month.
“We’re encouraged to see significant progress in top states like Washington, Minnesota, Colorado and Massachusetts,” said Andy Clarke, president of the League.  “But, as the scores clearly highlight, there’s much work to be done in critical areas like infrastructure and funding.  Overall, we see states—and especially state Departments of Transportation and state legislatures—lagging behind cities and the expectations of local cyclists, despite the many well-documented benefits of a more active lifestyle.”

The 2012 Bicycle Friendly States Ranking marks the launch of an updated and improved evaluation process.  Throughout 2011, the League held Bicycle Friendly America listening sessions across the country to understand the successes and shortcomings of the program.  Based on public input, the Bicycle Friendly State survey was revised to give a clearer picture of a state’s accomplishments and next steps towards becoming more bike-friendly.

Even with a revised survey, Washington once again set a high bar in 2012.  The state scored 4’s and 5’s (5 is the highest score) on the League’s report card, receiving top scores for Education and Encouragement, and Evaluation and Planning.  The report also makes recommendations for improvement.  One recommendation for Washington includes developing a comprehensive strategy for working with law enforcement on bicycling issues, including training for officers and targeted enforcement of bike safety laws.  Other recommendations are to continue to increase bicycle ridership and to fully fund and implement the state bicycle plan, which was adopted in 2006.
Strong and active bicycle advocacy at the state and local levels contribute to Washington’s top ranking.  An improved distracted driving law and a vulnerable user law were passed due largely to the efforts of Washington Bikes, Cascade Bicycle Club, and other bike groups. The Bicycle Alliance has also been instrumental in expanding bicycle skills training in schools around the state with its Safe Routes to School program. 
“Thanks to the League of American Bicyclists for this award. This honor comes with much responsibility for the state, bicycle advocates and others to continue to strive for complete streets ordinances in every community and Safe Routes to every school,” stated Barbara Culp, Executive Director for Washington Bikes.  “This is a call to anyone who rides a bike to hold your city, county and state officials accountable to an even more bike-friendly state.” 
The Bicycle Friendly State announcement was preceded last week by the League’s announcement of its latest Bicycle Friendly Community designations.  Tacoma and Snohomish are the newest Washington communities to receive this designation.  In all, ten Washington communities have earned a Bicycle Friendly Community designation.
Click here to see how Washington scored in the five evaluation categories.  Learn more about the League’s Bicycle Friendly State program at www.bikeleague.org/states.
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