Washington State has claimed the top spot on the League of American Bicyclists’ list of bike-friendly states for the fifth year in a row.
The League rated all 50 states and determined that Washington is the only state to score well in all five of their key criteria. The state is the only one in the Union to get a positive score in the “Infrastructure and Funding” category.
Last year, the state did not disproportionately raid the the biking and walking budgets during Federal rescissions as it had in previous years.
But, as noted in a press release from the Bicycle Alliance of Washington, there is still work to be done if states want to catch up with their more forward-thinking urban areas:
“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.”
We see this clearly in Seattle, where WSDOT’s largest projects continue to treat walking and biking as a secondary concern. During last year’s long Burke-Gilman Trail closure through Lake Forest Park, the state would not consider a temporary bike facility on 522 — the only parallel roadway — to help people who rely on the trail continue to travel safely. Likewise, people trying to bike and walk through the Alaskan Way construction have continually met with impressive, but sometimes dangerous, detour routes. On one hand, the state has built some fantastic and expensive stretches of trail connecting E Marginal Way to downtown. On the other hand, their weaving bicycle detour routes have been declared dangerous and time-consuming by many regular users of the route.
The League does have some advice for how Washington can improve its support for cycling. They suggest better training for law enforcement in bicycle-related traffic laws and fulfilling the funding needs of the state’s bicycle plan.
The Bicycle Alliance says strong advocacy was a huge part of the state’s ranking:
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 Bicycle Alliance of Washington, 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 Bicycle Alliance of Washington. “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.”
From the League:
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We’re number 1? Good grief the bar is low… better to be rated against the world, and then it would show what we have to do to get better.
I certainly enjoy riding my bicycle in this state. I’ve ridden thousands of miles all over Western Washington and have never had a single (overly) bad interaction. Partly luck, partly this state. I experienced a lot of harsh treatment in Northern California.
I once met a rather happy tourist downtown, also on bike, who was smiling that the motorists were not trying to actively run him off the road as they reputedly would in Florida. Baby steps, baby steps…
I agree, it’s a low bar, but having biked in Ohio, Oregon, and Washington, I feel this ranking is accurate. I have rarely been harassed here, while it happened (happens) regularly in rural Oregon, and even Portland. Ohio…
A driver on Vashon even complimented us once on our ‘single file’ riding technique.
Just one of several examples, both on the Reach the Beach ride in Oregon and riding on Skyline Blvd in Portland, I have had cars slow down next to me as they pass and pretend to shoot me with their hand. maybe cause I ain’t white…but wow.
I can’t believe we are #1. Rural roads often have no shoulders and posted speeds are rarely followed. Crosses of those killed on the road are frequent.Bike lanes in places like Everett all of the sudden disappear leaving the rider to negotiate 6 lanes of traffic at a busy intersection. The stop light sensors are set to sense waiting cars but not cyclists. Very few businesses have secure bike racks.
Drivers are generally courteous but I don’t consider Washington to be exceptionally bike friendly.
I bike to work on nice days. I can’t tell you how many people are in awe of me because they are afraid to bike because of the roads and traffic.
We need to do better to promote a culture of bicycling.
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