Community FAQ & Resources
Read through these FAQs to learn more about the program and how to apply.
Simple steps to make bicycling safe and comfortable pay huge dividends in civic, community and economic development. Given the opportunity to ride, residents enjoy dramatic health benefits, reduced congestion, increased property values and more money in their pockets to spend in the local economy. When your community welcomes bicycling, tourism booms, businesses attract the best and the brightest, and governments save big on parking costs while cutting their carbon emissions.
A community recognized by the League as a BFC℠ is one that encourages people to bike for transportation and recreation through the five Es: engineering, education, encouragement, enforcement, and evaluation. You can learn more about key metrics and benchmarks by exploring the Building Blocks of a Bicycle Friendly Community.
The popularity of the program speaks for itself: As of 2018, more than 850 communities have applied, and 431 have been awarded a Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum designation. But, even if your community doesn’t quite make the grade yet, applying is well worth the time. The application process will help your community create new partnerships and momentum for bicycle improvements, allow you to gather essential bicycle-related data in one place, and the result will show your political leadership how their community stacks up against similar communities all over the nation. In addition, each applicant receives customized feedback and technical assistance.
The Bicycle Friendly America Resource page contains several reports on the benefits of cycling, design guides, case studies and other useful information to aid your application to become recognized by the League as a Bicycle Friendly Community.
Each community that applies to be recognized as a Bicycle Friendly Community completes a thorough application. This application gives the League information about bicycling conditions and efforts to improve those conditions. The report card created for each community features key data from the application and some federal data to provide context for each community. To find explanations of each data point on the community report card, please read our Guide to the Bicycle Friendly Community Report Card.
The Bicycle Friendly America program has four sub-programs: Bicycle Friendly Business, Bicycle Friendly University, Bicycle Friendly States, and Bicycle Friendly Community.
The Bicycle Friendly Community program focuses on comprehensive actions that communities can take to improve bicycling in their communities. Communities can receive Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Diamond awards based upon their efforts.
The Bicycle Friendly Community award is based upon:
- An application developed in 2002 with the help of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Pedestrian Bicycle Information Center. This application has been periodically updated by League of American Bicyclists staff and a panel of outside experts over in the past 15 years, most recently in the fall of 2016 when the application system was migrated to a new software platform. A copy of the current application is available here.
- The award is based around the concept of the 5 E’s – Engineering, Education, Encouragement, Enforcement, and Evaluation & Planning. The application and feedback that is given to each community that applies is split into categories that reflect each of the 5 E’s.
- Award levels are based upon all data provided by the application. In particular, close attention is paid to the 10 Building Blocks of Bicycle Friendly Communities, which were formulated in 2013, and other key metrics found on each community’s report card.
- The Bicycle Friendly Community program has a public input component, including an optional survey which applicant communities can choose to distribute, but that public input is not a major component of the award determination.
Thanks to the generous support of League Members and BFC program sponsor Eco-Counter, there is no fee associated with the BFC application at this time.
Any municipality, county, Census Designated Place, military base, regional planning agency or Indian Country can apply to the BFC℠ program. Usually, a community official responsible for bicycling issues completes the application. However, much of the application can be completed by anyone familiar with what a community has done for bicycling as long as the community’s governing body approves its final submission. Often, the most complete applications come from communities where city officials, public agencies and local cyclists work on it together.
No, new and renewing applicants fill out the same application form.
There are two deadlines throughout the year - one in February and the other in August. The next deadline is February 5, 2019 at 11:59pm Pacific time.
Applications submitted through the online application site on or before February deadline will be considered for a Spring designation, to be announced in May.
Applications submitted before the August deadline will be considered for a Fall designation, to be announced in November.
Once an application cycle is completed, surveys are sent to advocates and interested cyclists in the applying communities for local feedback as well as made available to the community for public circulation. After the local review period, the applications and the local feedback are reviewed by a panel of national bicycle professionals. Applicants will be notified of the result at least a week ahead of the public announcement to provide enough time to send out a press release and organize an award ceremony, if desired. All BFC-designated communities receive an award certificate, a digital award seal, and a public report card.
Applicants that just fall short of a designation receive an Honorable Mention. Communities that receive an Honorable Mention are being promoted on the League website for one year. However, they do not receive a certificate, seal or road sign. The names of applicants that do not receive any recognition are not published. All applicants that do not achieve BFC status still receive a detailed feedback report that can be used to work towards a designation next time the community applies.
The BFC award is valid for four years. A BFC needs to reapply in either spring or fall of the year the award expires in order to maintain its status. For example, if your 2014 BFC status expires in 2018, you will need to reapply in either February or August 2018.
If you are a designated a BFC you may order additional BFC street signs and BFC promotional material in the BikeLeague Store.
My community participates in the Biking and Walking Benchmarking Report. Do I need to apply for the BFC program to participate in the Benchmarking Report this year?
The Bicycling and Walking Benchmarking Report project was created in 2007 by the Alliance for Biking & Walking and has reported survey data for all 50 states and the 50 largest US cities every other year since 2010. To find out if your community is on the list of participating communities, please click here.
In 2017, the League of American Bicyclists has undertaken data collection for the 6th edition of the Benchmarking Report. Because 48 of the 50 largest cities already participate in the Bicycle Friendly Community program and there is substantial overlap between the BFC application questions and the Benchmarking Survey questions, we have merged the surveys to the greatest extent possible.
To simplify data collection for cities that participate in both the Benchmarking Project and the BFC program, we have created three categories of the Bicycle Friendly Community application, so that applicants and survey respondents can self-select.
When you begin a Bicycle Friendly Community application (at http://apply.bikeleague.org) you will be presented with the following three categories to choose from:
- Bicycle Friendly Community application only
- Bicycle Friendly Community application and Benchmarking City Survey
- Benchmarking City Survey only
We recommend that communities that have not been contacted separately about the Benchmarking Report choose the first "Bicycle Friendly Community Application Only" category.
If you want to be considered for a Bicycle Friendly Community award AND provide data to be included in the Benchmarking Report*, please select the "Bicycle Friendly Community application and Benchmarking City Survey" category.
If your community only wishes to submit information for the Benchmarking Report, please select the "Benchmarking City Survey Only" category. The questionnaire will be much shorter. You will not be considered for a Bicycle Friendly Community award, and you will not receive a BFC Report Card in response to your survey responses.
*We hope that this merger may enable an expansion of the Benchmarking Report in the future as the over 400 communities that participate in the BFC program have the opportunity to be included. However, at this time, if your community is not one of the communities that has been involved in the Benchmarking Report in the past we cannot commit to including your data in the 6th edition of the report.
Residents and Advocates
But, most communities will take a little more work. Here are the steps to encouraging your community to apply:
- You must identify the decision makers responsible for the policy changes you seek.
- Ask for a letter recommending the Bicycle Friendly Community program from any organization that might be inclined to support better bicycling. The local bicycle club is a natural first choice, but local environmental groups, civic organizations, businesses and others will tend to cooperate if you make it easy enough for them. Draft the letter for them so they know exactly what you need to minimize the amount of work you ask of them.
- Set up a meeting with the decision maker(s) you identified and bring your best spokesperson and copies of the letters of support with you. Talk about the benefits that bicycle improvements as well as the benefits of a Bicycle Friendly Community designation. A good starting point is to ask if the person will submit the application for Bicycle Friendly Community status. One way the city can show its support for building a Bicycle Friendly Community is by adopting the Action Plan for Bicycle Friendly Communities available here.
- Following the meeting, write a thank you memo that spells out your understanding of what was agreed to. Lack of persistence is the downfall of many a bicycle advocate. Motivated people motivate politicians and their employees.
Resources for Building a Bicycle Friendly Community
- Find the population, population density, median income, age distribution and racial breakdown of your community
- Find local League Cycling Instructors, League affiliated clubs, bike shops and organizations
- Find the journey to work data of your community on the Census website. Search for topic “B08301” for your community to find mode share for bicycling, walking and transit. Use the most recent table. Divide total number of cyclists (“Bicycle”) by total number of commuters (“Total”) and multiply by 100. Repeat for pedestrians (“Walked”) and transit users (“Public transportation [excluding taxicab]”). To establish the percentage of bicycle commuters who are women, search for topic “B08006” for your community. Use the most recent table. Divide the total number of female cyclists (“Female: Bicycle”) by the total number of cyclists (“Total: Bicycle”) and multiply by 100.
- Action Plan for Bicycle Friendly Communities charter
- USDOT Secretary Anthony Foxx's Action Plan on Bike and Pedestrian Safety
- USDOT's Safer People, Safer Streets - Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Initiative
- FHWA' memorandum to support taking a flexible approach to pedestrian and bicycle facility design. The memorandum recognizes the AASHTO Guide for the Planning, Design, and Operation of Pedestrian Facilities, AASHTO Guide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities, ITE Designing Walkable Urban Thoroughfares document, and the NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide as resources to inform the design of safe, comfortable, and context-sensitive pedestrian and bicycle facilities.
- FHWA reports on bicycle networks: Delivering Safe, Comfortable, and Connected Pedestrian and Bicycle Networks - A Review of International Practices and Case Studies in Delivering Safe, Comfortable, and Connected Pedestrian and Bicycle Networks
- Information on the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act
- MAP-21 Find it, Fund it tool from Advocacy Advance
- Report on state and local funding of bicycle facilities
- FHWA report: Bicycle and Pedestrian Funding, Design and Environmental Review: Addressing Common Misconceptions
- Guide for using policy to build Bicycle Friendly Communities
- IBPI's Guide to Creating Walkable and Bikeable Communities
- FHWA Works: How the Federal Highway Administration Makes Walking and Bicycling Safer (Video)
- Research Article: Evidence on Why Bicycle-Friendly Cities Are Safer for All Road Users
- Economic Impacts of Bicycling in the US (infographic and report)
- Smart Growth America's report: Safer Streets, Stronger Economies
- Michigan DOT's Grand Rapid's Case Study - Community and Economic Benefits of Bicycling
- A collection of studies and other resources on the economic benefits of bicycling
- Improving Conditions for Bicycling and Walking - A best practices report listing outstanding projects that communities have undertaken
- Strategies to promote bicycling
- The health risks and benefits of cycling in urban environments compared with car use: health impact assessment study
- 10 lessons from the world's great biking cities
- Bloomington, IN, Platinum Bicycle Task Force Final Report: Breaking Away: Journey to Platinum
- 17 infographics about bicycling, including How Bikes Can Save Us and Bicycling in the United States
- Infographic on American's Support for Funding Sidewalks and Bike Lanes
- Rural and Small Urban Design Guide
- European Cycling Lexicon for bicycling terms in 27 languages
Complete Streets and Routine Accommodation
- Complete Streets resources, reports & guidance from Smart Growth America
- Pedestrian & Bicycle Information Center Complete Streets Resources
- American Planning Association report on Complete Streets Best Policy and Implementation Practice
- Boston's Complete Streets Program
- Smart Growth America's Best Complete Streets Policies of 2015
- Complete Streets in Rural Contexts
Bicycle Facility and Streetscaping Design Standards
- Design Resource Index - Identifies the specific location of information in key national design manuals for various pedestrian and bicycle design treatments
- AASHTO Guide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities, 4th Edition
- MUTCD Traffic Controls for Bicycle Facilities (Also see FWHA's Bicycle Facilities and the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices webpage)
- NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide
- NACTO Urban Street Design Guide
- Model Design Manual for Living Streets
- FHWA Planning Guidance for Bicycle Transportation Facilities
- Washington County Bicycle Facility Design Toolkit
- Scottsdale, AZ Road Streetscapes Design Guidelines
Target/Low Design Speed
- NACTO on design speed and speed reduction measures
- WHO's Speed Management Road Safety Manual for Decision-makers and Practicioners
- Fehr&Peer's Traffic Calming resource page
- Blog: Slowing Traffic to a Target Speed: How to make our Streets Safer
Training for Bicycle Program Coordinators, Engineers and Planners
- Training opportunities related to trails and greenways
- FHWA University Course on Bicycle & Pedestrian Transportation
- Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals
- National Highway Institute
- Pro Walk Pro Bike Conference (held every 2 years)
- APBP Bike Parking Guidelines, 2nd Edition
- A review of bike parking considerations and costs
- Guidelines for Artistic Bicycle Rack
- Streetfilm about on-street bike parking
- Model bicycle parking ordinance
- Dero's Bike Parking Guide
- Making a Place for Bicycles fact sheet
- Philadelphia, Pa., bicycle parking ordinance
- Portland, OR bike parking ordinance (starting page 266-22) and bike parking design and placement guidelines
- Washington, DC's legislation that allows tenants to request retrofitting of existing buildings
- Mobility Lab's 10 Rules for Construction of Good Bicycle Parking
Bike Sharing Programs
- Bike Share in the United States (NACTO)
- North American Bikeshare Association (NABSA) Sample Documents (Sample bikeshare regulations, agreements, etc.)
- Better Bikeshare Partnership
Bikes and Transit
- First Mile, Last Mile: How Federal Transit Funds can improve access to public transit for people who walk and bike
- How to improve transit accommodation of bikes in the U.S.
- Information from the FHWA regarding bicycles connection to transit
On-Street Bike Facilities and Treatments
- FHA Bicycle Safety Guide and Countermeasure Selection System
- FHWA's guide to signing, striping and marking bike lanes on streets
- DOT FHWA's Road Diet Informational Guide
- DOT FHWA's Separated Bike Lane Planning and Design Guide
- Matrix showing 15 ways to protect a bike lane (including installation costs, protection level, perceived safety rating, and durability information).
- Study: Evaluating the Safety Effects of Bicycle Lanes in New York City
- Study of Contra-Flow Bike Lanes in Cambridge, MA
- Traffic Calming Resources
- Santa Monica's Woonerf/Shared Space model project
- Bicycle Boulevard Planning & Design Guidebook
- Best Practices in Bicycle Way-finding signage in the Washington Region
- Study of Bicycle Signal Heads in Davis, Ca
- Report on Bicycle Detection
- Bicycle Detection and Signalization
- Barre-Montpelier Road Diet video
Off-Road Trails and Other Recreational Facilities
- The Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program
- The Rails to Trails Conservancy’s Trail Building Toolkit
- Information on structure and design considerations when constructing underpasses and overpasses for bicycles
- Integrating Rail-Trails into Statewide and Metropolitan Long Range Plan
- Trailbuilding Resources
- Philadelphia - Wissahickon Trail
- San Francisco- Mt Sutro Open Space
- Tuscon- Fantasy Island at Saguaro National Park
- NYC - Highbridge Bike Park
- Seattle - Colonnade Mountain Bike Skills Park
- Boulder - Valmont Bike Park
- National Mountain Bike Patrol Resources Communications
Bicycle Facility Maintenance
- FHWA's Guide for Maintaining Pedestrian Facilities for Enhanced Safety
- Iowa DOT's trail maintenance recommendations
- Seattle Spot improvement program
- How Communities are Paying to Maintain Trails, Bike Lanes, and Sidewalks
Land Use and Urban Form
- Building in Healthy Infill
- Planetizen's DIY Form-Based Code: An Introduction (28 min video, free)
- Understanding Smart Growth Savings - Evaluating Economic Savings and Benefits of Compact Development, and How They Are Misrepresented By Critics
- Attracting Infill Development in Distressed Communities - 30 strategies to help local governments overcome obstacles and encourage infill development in distressed communities
Adult Cyclist and Motorist Education
- A database cataloging motorist educational materials
- The League’s Ride Better Program
- The League’s Smart Cycling Tips and Presentations
- The League's Smart Cycling Quick Guide
- Ticket diversion: Bicyclist traffic education and enforcement programs in Arizona
- Share the Road public service announcements
- OCTA's humorous Bike Smart, Bike Safe - 3 Feet for Safety Act PSA video
- Bicycle Education en Español
- League Cycling Instructor seminar
- Marin County Bicycle Coalition’s Share the Road and Share the Path Campaigns
- Spanish PSA poster and video in Los Angeles
- Florida's Alert Today, Alive Tomorrow Education Campaigns
Professional Driver Education
- TMi Municipal Bus Driver Training DVD Collection
- San Francisco Bicycle Coalition's Frequent Driver Training
Children and Youth Cycling Education
- Safe Routes to School Guide
- Bike Texas' SafeCyclist Curriculum and Certification designed for fourth and fifth grade
- FHWA's Bicycle Safer Journey
- Youth bike clubs – After-school Bike Education
- Bike Rodeo Manual
- Kidical Mass DC's ABC of Family Biking class
- Community Cycling Center and Summer recreation programs
- Sheriff’s Safety Town in Shreveport, LA
- Earn-a-Bike program
- High School NORCAL Bike League
Bike Ambassador Program
Bike Month, Bike to Work Day and Bike to School Day
- Guides and materials for Bike Month and Bike to Work Day Bike to School Day
- An Employer Guide to Bike Commuting
- Create-a-Commuter program at the Community Cycling Center in Portland, OR
- Bike Buddy Program in Spokane, WA
- San Francisco Bicycle Coalition’s Employer Bike Commuter Incentive Guide
- Bicycle Commuter Mentor Program in Charlotte, NC
Women Biking Resources
- The League's Women Bike program
- Report: Engaging More Women in Bicycling
- Women Bike Grants and Toolkits
- Women Bike Webinars and Webcasts
- How to Host a Women's Bicycling Forum
- National Journal article: There's a Biking Gender Gap. And It Has A Real Economic Impact.
- Family Biking Guide (in English, Spanish and Chinese) by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition
- Portland's Family Biking Guide
- Kids and Bicycling
- Kidical Mass - Kids are Traffic Too
- Family Biking Ages and Stages
- Gear Guide
- Child Seat Reviews
- Washington Area Bicyclist Association’s Community Bike Events
- Implementation & Advocacy Manual for Summer Streets/Ciclovia/Sunday Parkways
- California Bicycle Coalition Report on Open Streets events
- Commuter Breakfasts in Portland, OR
- Signature Cycling Events
- Trail Construction or Maintenance Day
Other Encouragement Groups, Activities, Services, etc.
- Example of a Local tourism board promotion and promoting local cycling and tourism
- The League’s guide on how to start a bike club or advocacy organization
- League of Michigan Bicyclists guide on how to start a bike club
- Friends of the Trail Groups
- National Mountain Bike Patrol
- Bicycle Co-ops
- An example of the benefits of a community bike shop
- Find specialty bicycle retailers
- Recycle-a-Bicycle program
- Bucks for Bikes program
- Local Trips for Kids chapters
Law Enforcement Training & Awareness
- The Case for Bicycle Law Enforcement
- Developing partnerships with law enforcement
- Law Enforcement's Roll Call Video: “Enforcing Law for Bicyclists”
- Law Enforcement Bicycle Association
- International Police Mountain Bike Association
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration law enforcement training
- Targeting cyclist and motorist infractions
- Helmet giveaways
- Is a helmet worth it? How brain injuries affect different body functions
- Light giveaways
- How to build an EMS bike unit
- The League’s position paper on Speed Limits and Enforcement
Bike Theft Prevention
Laws & Regulations
Evaluating and Prioritizing
- NCHRP's Pedestrian and Bicycle Transportation Along Existing Roads - ActiveTrans Priority Tool Guidebook
- League of Illinois Bicyclists' Bicycle Level of Service Calculator
- OTREC Report: Improving Regional Travel Demand Models for Bicycling
- Bicycle Compatibility Index
- Mineta Transportation Institute Research Report on Low-Stress Bicycling and Network Connectivity
- Use the bikeability checklist for evaluating the bikeability of a community
- FHA Guidebook on Methods to Estimate Non-Motorized Travel
- FHWA's research report: Evaluation of Safety, Design, and Operation of Shared-Use Paths
- Your Guide to forming a Bicycle Advisory Committee by MassBike
- Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee best practices
- Report of importance of bicycle & pedestrian staff
- Find your state bicycle coordinator
- Association of Bicycle and Pedestrian Professionals
- National Bicycle & Pedestrian Documentation Project (NBPD)
- See the Final Report from the BPAC of Alexandria, VA, for an example of how the NBPD project is used to benefit a community
- Automatic bicycle counters in Arlington, VA
- Using GPS data to replace travel diaries
- FHWA's BIKESAFE: Bicycle Countermeasure Selection System
- Bicycle crashes and safety facts
- New York's Vision Zero campaign and Transportation Alternatives' analysis
- STI's Vision Zero: Adopting a Target of Zero for Road Traffic Fatalities and Serious Injuries
- Seattle's Vision Zero plan
- Pedestrian and Bicycle Crash Analysis Tool (PBCAT)
- Intersection Magic – Crash Records Analysis
Bicycle Master Planning and Implementation
- A list of exemplary bicycle and pedestrian plans
- Creating a Roadmap for Producing & Implementing a Bicycle Master Plan Recreational trail planning
- Multnomah County, OR's Diversity Outreach Workshops to train staff in creatively expanding outreach to cultural and minority communities
- Seattle, WA's Neighborhood Planning Outreach and Engagement Program to engage residents in ethnically diverse and historically underrepresented neighborhoods
- Strategies for implementing simple, low-cost improvements
- Video produced by Arkansas State University explaining the bike planning process
- A case study on Houten, Netherlands for the design of a bike-centered suburb
Transportation Demand Management Ordinances and Strategies
- Trip reduction ordinance database
- EPA report on trip reduction ordinances
- 7 Best Practices in Transportation Demand Management
- An analysis of Portland's Smart Trips Welcome Program
- Comparison of Arlington, VA's and Washington, DC's Transportation Demand Management programs
- FHWA report: Developing a Regional Approach to Transportation Demand Management and Nonmotorized Transportation: Best Practice Case Studies
Economic Impact Study
- Portland, OR Bicycling Economic Impact Study
- Virginia Creeper Trail Economic Impact Case Study
- FHWA's White Paper: Evaluating the Economic Benefits of Nonmotorized Transportation
- Building a new roadway for motor vehicles can cost millions of dollars to construct, and many of the pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure facilities are extremely low-cost in comparison. Use this database to review up-to-date estimates of infrastructure costs of pedestrian and bicycle treatments from states and cities across the country.
- Advocacy Advance report: How Communities are Paying for Innovative On-street Bicycle Infrastructure
- Since 1992 bicycle and pedestrian projects have been eligible for federal transportation funding. To learn more about what federal funds are available for bicycle projects, use Advocacy Advance’s interactive Find it, Fund it tool to search for eligible funding programs by bike/ped project type or review the same information as a PDF here.
- Biking and walking dollars aren't only available from the federal government. States can also have their own revenue sources that can be used to fund active transportation. Use this report and an online tool to explore your state’s funding sources for bicycle and pedestrian improvements.
- Local governments can also create their own revenue streams to improve conditions for bicycling and walking. Three common approaches include: special bond issues, dedications of a portion of local sales taxes or a voter-approved sales tax increase, and use of the annual capital improvement budgets of Public Works and/or Parks agencies. Bicycle facility improvements can also be tagged on to larger projects to create economies of scale that results in reduced costs and reduced impacts to traffic, businesses, and residents. For example, if there is an existing road project, it is usually cheaper to add bike lanes and sidewalks to the project than to construct them separately. To learn more about public funding of bicycle infrastructure improvements, visit pedbikeinfo.org/planning/funding_government.cfm.
Resources and Support
- Advocacy Advance offers several tools, resources, and workshops to help advocates and agency staff maximize eligible funding programs.