Top 10 Signs of Success
In each report card, we include several metrics to score every state. Here, we explain in more detail what those metrics are and how they create a more holistic Bicycle Friendly State.
Additional Information on the Top 10 Signs of Success
The proof of bicycle friendliness is in the biking. Through the American Community Survey, the U.S. Census Bureau studies Americans’ commuting habits each year, including how many people commute by bike. Eight states had a bicycle commuter mode share greater than 1% in 2012 (the most recent year available), including Oregon at 2.5%.
Safe passing laws provide protection by making it clear to drivers that passing a bicyclist safely means giving a certain amount of space to the bicyclist. In most instances, safe passing laws say that three feet between the bicyclist and motor vehicle is required. However, some states define other specific distances or define what a safe distance is through context – such as the space needed to avoid a bicyclist if he or she fell.
Vulnerable Road User laws provide legal protection to people who are not protected by motor vehicles. The League has a model vulnerable road user law and we look for states that have two elements of that model: 1) a definition of “vulnerable (road) user” and 2) distinct penalties for the serious injury or death of a vulnerable road user when a motorist hits them while doing actions defined in the law. By providing distinct penalties motorists should be generally deterred from doing unsafe behaviors when vulnerable road users are present and should be less likely to engage in the actions that trigger the application of the law.
Complete Streets are designed to enable safe access for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders of all ages and abilities. Complete Streets policies ensure that all users are accommodated when streets are designed and built. According to the 2014 survey, twenty-two states have Complete Streets policies or laws. Twenty additional states have “routine accommodation” policies for bicycling and walking. (Six states with Complete Streets policies also have routine accommodation policies.) For states to effectively implement their Complete Streets policies, they must update their planning, project selection procedures, design guidance, professional training, and accountability processes.
In addition to important federal funding sources for bicycling transportation, bicycle friendly states dedicate state revenue to bicycling and walking infrastructure and programs. According to the 2014 BFS survey, twenty-one states have such a dedicated state revenue source. For example, of California’s Active Transportation Program, $33 million comes from state sources. The state of Delaware authorized $10.25 million from their state Transportation Trust Fund and $3 million from the state’s General Fund for walking and bicycling projects. Several states, like Louisiana, dedicate revenue from Share the Road license plates or other “vanity” tags to bicycling safety.
State also make (non-dedicated) funding available from the following sources: state fuel tax, vehicle and truck taxes, registration fees, tolls, general fund, bond proceeds, bicycle and pedestrian streams, Public/Private Partnerships, gambling, lottery revenue, state bicycle user fee, highway safety fees, natural resource trust funds, and school zone speeding tickets.
The robust implementation of bicycle friendly policies and practices requires broad public support. That is where advocacy comes in. Statewide advocacy organizations galvanize public support for bicycling to encourage departments of transportation to embrace bicycle friendly policies and work with state legislatures to pass bicycle friendly laws and to finance active transportation investments. In 2014, 46 of the 50 states had an active state bicycling advocacy organization. For more information on advocacy organizations, see the .
Many states write a bicycle and walking master plan to guide their planning and investments in a statewide bicycle and walking network. According to our 2015 survey, Twenty-two states report having a combined bicycling and walking statewide master plan. Thirteen states have stand-alone biking and/or walking plans, and seven states have only a bicycling master plan. Seventeen states do not have any statewide plan.
Share the Road Campaigns are usually meant to remind drivers that other road users have equal rights, and duties, while on roadways. The essence of this type of campaign is to raise awareness that other road users, such as bicyclists, are valid road users who deserve respect and consideration while on roadways. Sharing the road means that we all share the responsibility to behave properly and look out for the safety of one another on roadways.
While overall traffic fatalities are going down nationally, bicycle and walking fatalities are increasing. In order to spend important Highway Safety Improvement Program funds on bicycling, bike safety needs to be identified in a state’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan. Eight states fail to identify either bicycle or pedestrian safety in their plans. Thirty states identify bicycling or bicycling and pedestrian safety as an emphasis area or through several strategies to achieve an emphasis area.
According to 2015 data, over the last 5 years 18 states have spent at least 2% of federal funds on bicycling and walking infrastructure and programs. While states use a variety of funding programs to reach 2% or more, this shows state support for the inclusion of bicycling and walking funding in the federal transportation bill.