Washington Tops List of Bike-Friendly States

Cyclists in rainy Washington state enjoy the rosiest climate for cycling, while hilly West Virginia presents the most obstacles for its two-wheeled travelers. Those are the findings from this year’s Bike Friendly States program from the League of American Bicyclists.

Washington got a "D" for infrastructure but scored high marks for legislation and other categories to claim the top spot in the League of American Bicyclists' Bike Friendly States program. Photo: Biking Bis

Washington was joined by a regionally diverse set including Maine, Wisconsin, Minnesota and New Jersey, respectively, in the League’s top five spots. The Northeast, Northwest and Midwest dominated the top half of the list. Meanwhile, rural and Southern states continued to be overrepresented at the bottom. The lowest-ranking states were Montana, Alabama, Arkansas, North Dakota and West Virginia.

Each state was graded in six categories: legislation; policies and priorities; infrastructure; education and encouragement efforts; evaluation and planning; and enforcement.

Network blog the Kansas Cyclist took the time to investigate its state’s ricocheting rankings and has some interesting insights for the majority of states which populate the list’s middle-ground:

When we interviewed Andy Clarke, president of the League of American Bicyclists, on the podcast (episode #21), and asked about why Kansas’ ranking had jumped 20 places last year (from #33 to #13), he said that while there is a big difference between the few states at the top of the list and the few states at the bottom, there wasn’t much separating the states in the middle, so those ranks could be expected to fluctuate quite a bit from year to year. Kansas was #25 in 2008, #33 in 2009, #13 in 2010, and now #23 in 2011, so we are indeed bouncing up and down a bit in the rankings, but overall not changing much.

This year the League placed additional emphasis on the states’ use of federal bike and pedestrian funds. States were penalized if they failed to use a disproportionate amount of their federal bike-ped money during the rescission process.

That emphasis was kind to Maine, which has risen from sixth place to the number two spot since 2008.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Biking in LA reports on a new map showing the location of traffic injuries in the city — and how it helps visualize how much work needs to be done to make LA safe for pedestrians and cyclists. Half Mile Circles examines the potential for transit oriented development around bus stops. And Urban Review STL explores how regional and national demographic trends are reshaping St. Louis.