Bicycle Friendly State FAQ and Resources
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE BICYCLE FRIENDLY STATE PROGRAM
The Bicycle Friendly State program was launched in 2008 in order to better understand state efforts related to bicycling and provide a comparative framework that allows states to easily identify areas of improvement. Through our ranking, we hope that states and the public can easily understand the relative strengths and weaknesses of each state’s efforts related to bicycling.
The primary focus of the Bicycle Friendly State program is on the behavior of state Departments of Transportation and state legislators. These two groups are powerful policymakers and implementers who have significant impacts on conditions for bicyclists in each state. The League recognizes that there are often other departments that play a key role in state biking policies and programming, including Departments of Health, Natural Resources, Highway Patrol, Motor Vehicle Licensing, and others. While we encourage engagement with those departments, our survey does not explicitly ask for information from them.
The League of American Bicyclists believes that a ranking provides unique comparative value for states. States, unlike communities, businesses, and universities are a defined and limited number of entities. For this reason, the ranking provides an easy to understand basis for comparison that is appropriate for states, but is less appropriate for our other Bicycle Friendly America programs. We realize that rankings can often mean that small differences in survey, federal, and public data lead can lead to seemingly large differences in rankings, for that reason we urge citizens, states, and advocates to look closely at all available data for their state and use the rankings and other features of the report card as guidance for comparisons rather than final judgements on state actions.
The Bicycle Friendly State program is structured around a ranking of all 50 states based upon publicly available data and a survey completed by state Departments of Transportation and/or state bicycle advocacy organizations. Publicly available data used by the Bicycle Friendly State program includes:
- Bike commuting data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey,
- Bicyclist fatality data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System,
- Bicycle and Pedestrian spending data from the Federal Highway Administration’s Fiscal Management Information System, and
- Data on advocacy and bicycle-related laws maintained by the League of American Bicyclists.
Through the survey and publicly available data reviewed, the ranking is based on 106 data points. Most data points are scored based on a binary (yes/no) basis, but formulas and discretion are used for certain data points. For instance, all federal data is scored by a formula created for that particular data. The League has traditionally not made our scoring rubric public. If you would like to ask a question about how a particular data point is scored, from the survey or publicly available data, please contact Ken McLeod at email@example.com.
The survey is available at this link.
Past versions of the survey have been published biennially in the Alliance for Biking and Walking’s Benchmarking Report starting in 2012. The 2016 Benchmarking Report on Bicycling and Walking in the United States – and the survey used for the 2015 Bicycle Friendly State ranking is available at bikingandwalkingbenchmarks.org.
The League of American Bicyclists has traditionally not made all survey responses public. Most survey responses are eventually published in the biennial Benchmarking Report on Bicycling and Walking in the United States. The most recent version of that report, from 2016, is available at bikingandwalkingbenchmarks.org. A 2018 edition of the Benchmarking Report will be published by the League of American Bicyclists in late 2018.
The Bicycle Friendly State Report Card is intended to provide highlighted information about each state to provide a useful comparison between states and serve as a reference for state efforts related to bicycling.
The Guide to the Bicycle Friendly State Report Card provides background information on each of the data points on the Report Card. It is our hope that this background will answer questions about where this data comes from and how it should be interpreted.
It is important to note that the data on the Report Card do not necessarily reflect the totality of a state’s efforts related to bicycling. The Report Card also does not explicitly consider factors such as natural beauty, weather, or culture that may affect riding in a state. While the majority of data relate to actions by a state Department of Transportation, the data is not limited to things within the control or influence of a state Department of Transportation. Many states have efforts that do not fit within the survey and public data used to create the Report Card.
Resources are available below. In addition, we encourage you to connect with state and local advocates for bicycling in your state. You can find these organizations through our Connect Locally utility available on the left side of the screen or at this link.
2017 Bicycle Friendly State Charts and Maps
Bicycle Friendly Action Maps
Resources for Building a Bicycle Friendly State
- Review the National Conference of State Legislatures guide Encouraging Bicycling and Walking: The State Legislative Role
- Find more information on 13 types of common laws and regulations pertaining to bicycles for each state
- The League of American Bicyclists opposes mandatory side path laws and any legislation that would restrict bicyclist access to roads as operators of vehicles. Review the League’s position on this and other topics.
- Review information regarding helmet laws for your state, as well as the League’s position on helmet use.
- Find states that require a safe passing distance
- Review information on photo enforcement
- Check out more information on state laws restricting cell phone use
- See an example of officer bicycle and pedestrian law trainings
- Review Chapters 1, 11, and 12 of the Uniform Vehicle Code
- Check out The Innovative DOT - A Handbook of Policy and Practice
- League of American Bicyclists supports Complete Streets that are designed and operated to enable safe access for all users. Pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and bus riders of all ages and abilities are able to safely move along and across a complete street. Visit Smart Growth America to learn more, and see this example of a statewide policy.
- For an example of a carbon emission reduction plan, review Maryland's Comprehensive Greenouse Gas and Carbon Footprint Reduction Strategy
- Cyclists often travel across city, county and even state boundaries. See FHWA's Small Towns and Rural Multimodal Networks Guide and the Lake Champlain Bikeways for an example of bike facility coordination with neighboring states.
- Review information on FHWA’s rumble strip recommendations as well as Colorado’s bicycle-friendly rumble strip design
- For context sensitive design guidance see Oregon’s Main Street…When a Highway Runs Through It and Maryland’s When Main Street is a State Highway
- See information about the Bicycle Level of Service (BLOS)
- Learn about the FAST ACT - the most recent federal transportation bill
- Information on the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP)
- Information on the State Planning & Research (SPR)
- For an example of a plan for a statewide bicycle route network, click here
- For information on national US numbered bike routes, click here
- For more information on the liability issues of bikeways see the National Cooperative Highway Legal Digest
- For information on League of American Bicyclists Bike Ed classes being offered in your state, as well as a listing of current League Certified Instructors (LCI’s) click here
- An example of a statewide “Share the Road” campaign
- See how other states are supporting Safe Routes to School efforts here
- For an example of a state Bicycle Driver’s Manual click here
- Information about state and large city advocacy organizations
- An example of a bicycle tourism promotion
- For an example of bicycle usage rates listed within a State Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP), click here and here
- Check out examples of good statewide bicycle plans
- Video produced by Arkansas State University explaining the statewide bike planning process
- Uniform guidelines on bicycle safety for your state Highway Safety Plan
- NHTSA cyclist fatality rates
- Explore California's community bike safety assesment and strategy
- American Community Survey rates of bike commuting by state
- Read the League's Guide to Statewide Bicycle Summits
For more information on the particular data reported by each state please reference the Alliance for Biking & Walking's 2016 Benchmarking Report. The Benchmarking Report shares data with our Bicycle Friendly State survey and comprehensively reports the data collected. In addition, a full version of the survey used to collect data is included in the appendix of the Benchmarking Report.