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New Platinum, New Gold Bicycle Friendly Communities
November 16, 2015: Today the League of American Bicyclists announced 55 new and renewing Bicycle Friendly Communities (BFC). Eighteen communities received their first BFC award, 17 at Bronze and Hennepin County, MN, at Silver. Nine communities moved up to higher award levels, and the remainder renewed at their previous level.
This latest round saw strong growth in the top tiers of the program, as Madison, WI, became the 5th Platinum BFC, joining Boulder and Fort Collins, CO, Davis, CA, and Portland, OR. Madison is the first new Platinum since 2013.
“When the City of Madison joined with local bike enthusiasts to begin the process to achieve Platinum status, many people thought it was an unreachable goal. What a journey, and what a great recognition for the incredible bike paths, bike lanes, our relationship with Trek and B Cycle, cycling amenities and the welcoming nature of our city to cyclists! Bicycling in Madison is more than a pastime; it’s a way of life, and it has positive impacts on our environment and our transportation system. I am very grateful to the team of bicyclists, the Wisconsin Bike Federation and city staff that documented our efforts to obtain this elite recognition.” -- Madison Mayor Paul Soglin
“What this says is that any city can be a great cycling city as long as there’s commitment from a broad range of city leaders and the population as a whole. This didn’t come about overnight, it was a decade-long effort. We had support from city leaders, the business community and the thousands of cyclists in the Madison area. The lesson we learned is that it has to be a broad-based effort, it can’t just come from the top.” -- Dave Cieslewicz, executive director of the Wisconsin Bike Fed and former mayor of Madison.
Four communities moved into the Gold tier: Austin, TX, San Luis Obispo and Santa Cruz, CA, and Tempe, AZ. There are now 24 Gold Bicycle Friendly Communities.
“Austin joins just a handful of major cities in the entire nation to earn this award for efforts to make this city a bicycle-friendly community. But this distinction isn’t about bicycling, it’s about the benefits that bicycling brings to Austin. It’s good for your health, great for your family’s transportation budget, and may be the quickest way to get around town. Austin’s commitment to bicycling is evident through the implementation of our recently adopted Bicycle Master Plan which will make bicycling safer, more comfortable and convenient for people of all ages and abilities.” -- Austin Transportation Director Rob Spillar
There is a strong town-gown connection in the new Platinum and Gold awardees. The University of Wisconsin - Madison was named a Gold Bicycle Friendly University (BFU) earlier this month. Arizona State University in Tempe is also a Gold BFU. The University of California, Santa Cruz, is a Silver BFU, and the University of Texas in Austin is Bronze.
But there is much more to the story than a celebration of classic American college towns. The growth of the BFC program demonstrates that communities of all sizes and sorts are harnessing the value of bicycling in cultivating healthy citizens and a healthy, growing economy. The Fall 2015 class of new BFCs includes Brownsville, TX, a border city frequently cited among the poorest in the U.S.; Benton and Washington Counties, AR, one of the most Republican-leaning areas of the state and home to the Walmart Corporation; and vacation destinations like Virginia Beach, VA, Naples, FL, and Fergus Falls, MN. Monona, WI, is the smallest of the new BFCs, with a population of 7,533; Hennepin County, MN, is the largest, with a population of 1.2 million.
“BikeTexas shares Brownsville’s excitement and pride at receiving the Bronze level Bicycle Friendly Community Award from the League of American Bicyclists. We know firsthand that elected officials, city departments, and local citizen advocates all played vital roles in putting Brownsville on the map as the Bicycling Capital of the Rio Grande Valley.” -- BikeTexas Executive Director Robin Stallings
State and local cycling advocacy organizations are a key ingredient in improving bike friendliness. BikeAustin and BikeTexas were key partners in Austin and across the state. Eight Wisconsin communities received awards in this round, fueled by the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin's efforts. The state has three new BFCs, three communities moving up, and another two renewing their designations.
These new awardees join a leading group of 371 communities in all 50 states that are improving health, safety and quality of life in cities and towns nationwide. With this new round, 72 million people live in a Bicycle Friendly Community.
The BFC program provides a roadmap for building a Bicycle Friendly Community. Since the program's inception, more than 800 distinct communities have applied and the five levels of the award - Diamond*, Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze - provide a clear incentive for communities to continuously improve. Communities complete a 100+ question application, which is then reviewed by national experts as well as members of their local cycling community. All applicants receive extensive feedback. Communities must renew their designation every four years. (*There are currently no communities at the Diamond level.)
To apply or learn more about the BFC program, visit bikeleague.org/community.