Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Is Your State Bicycle-Friendly?

Popular
iStock

By Davis Harper

Do you live in the safest or the most dangerous state for riding a bike? The 2017 Bicycle Friendly State Report Card has the answer.


Each year, the League of American Bicyclists, an advocacy group founded in 1880 to improve street conditions for bikers, releases a detailed ranking that cyclists can use to track where it's safe, and not so safe, to hop on wheels. The group also monitors each state's progress toward increased bicycle safety. The rankings are derived from a variety of factors, including five key bicycle-friendly actions, federal data on bicycling conditions, and summaries with feedback on how each state can improve the safety and mobility of bicyclists.

Washington—ranked number one since 2008—has paved the way for safe biking conditions, with $20 million per year in state spending committed to biking and walking projects for the next 16 years. Some of these projects include new roadway crossings, better signage in high traffic areas and safer bike lanes. The rainy state's plan has a unique component that addresses pooling from stormwater runoff as a danger to bikers and proposes planting rain gardens in stormwater infiltration areas to prevent, treat and store runoff.

Machiko Threlkeld, ride leader for Cascade Bicycle Club (CBC) in Seattle, agrees that the state has made progress to protect bikers. But she is still not fully content with urban biking conditions. "I believe we're going in the right direction when I realize I have more options on routes, SDOT sweeping protected bike lanes, and clubs like CBC spreading the joy of cycling 365 days a year," said Threlkeld, "but I still have mixed feelings about Washington being the top state because of so many thefts, incidents, and aggressive drivers and cyclists." Going forward, Threlkeld emphasizes the importance of education and communication among both drivers and cyclists in shared spaces.

Washington has made an ambitious goal to have zero fatal and serious injury bicycle-and-pedestrian collisions by 2030 (currently there are 3.7 fatalities per every 10,000 bike commuters).

The state that ranks worst is Nebraska, with a low ridership rate (.5 percent of commuters biking to work) and modest spending on biking and walking ($2.44 per capita). Most notably, Nebraska lacks a statewide bike plan—a key component for state Departments of Transportation if they're to make any real progress for bicycling conditions, according to Ken McLeod, policy director for the League of American Bicyclists and founder of the Bike Friendly State Program.

Julie Harris, native Nebraskan cyclist commuter and executive director of the Nebraska Bicycling Alliance, works to change these conditions. "We need state policy to address more than just cars when deciding to build or improve a road, especially in rural communities where the state highway is the main street," said Harris. "Many streets are built with too wide of lanes or without considering sidewalks or trail and transit connections."

Despite numerous concerns, Harris has seen improvement. "We have seen things starting to change in the last year or two, such as leaving gaps in new rumble strips so people can get on and off the shoulder more safely and comfortably and getting a side-path added to a major bridge project. As long as we keep going this general direction, we're confident that our ranking will improve."

The league's goal is not only to educate bikers and pedestrians on the processes by which states create safer conditions and infrastructure to minimize accidents, but also to promote bike culture. "People are seeing the cross benefits of biking not just for transportation, but also for improving health or access to public lands," said McLeod. "It's also a very low-cost means of getting around, which makes providing a good biking network a good solution for areas with high transportation costs."

Between 2012 and 2017, the number of bike riders in the U.S. increased from 51 million to 66 million—a trend that's likely to continue if states keep bike-safety conditions a priority.

Reposted with permission from our media associate SIERRA Magazine.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Food Tank

By Danielle Nierenberg and Alonso Diaz

With record high unemployment, a reeling global economy, and concerns of food shortages, the world as we know it is changing. But even as these shifts expose inequities in the health and food systems, many experts hope that the current moment offers an opportunity to build a new and more sustainable food system.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Brian J. Love and Julie Rieland

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the U.S. recycling industry. Waste sources, quantities and destinations are all in flux, and shutdowns have devastated an industry that was already struggling.

Read More Show Less
Pixabay

By Kris Gunnars, BSc

Unhealthy foods play a primary role in many people gaining weight and developing chronic health conditions, more now than ever before.

Read More Show Less
A man pushes his mother in a wheelchair down Ocean Drive in South Beach, Miami on May 19, 2020, amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. reported more than 55,000 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, in a sign that the outbreak is not letting up as the Fourth of July weekend kicks off.

Read More Show Less
To better understand how people influence the overall health of dolphins, Oklahoma State University's Unmanned Systems Research Institute is developing a drone to collect samples from the spray that comes from their blowholes. Ken Y. / CC by 2.0

By Jason Bruck

Human actions have taken a steep toll on whales and dolphins. Some studies estimate that small whale abundance, which includes dolphins, has fallen 87% since 1980 and thousands of whales die from rope entanglement annually. But humans also cause less obvious harm. Researchers have found changes in the stress levels, reproductive health and respiratory health of these animals, but this valuable data is extremely hard to collect.

Read More Show Less

Sunscreen pollution is accelerating the demise of coral reefs globally by causing permanent DNA damage to coral. gonzalo martinez / iStock / Getty Images Plus

On July 29, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law a controversial bill prohibiting local governments from banning certain types of sunscreens.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Oat milk is popping up at coffee shops and grocery stores alike, quickly becoming one of the trendiest plant-based milks. jacqueline / CC by 2.0

By Kelli McGrane

Oat milk is popping up at coffee shops and grocery stores alike, quickly becoming one of the trendiest plant-based milks.

Read More Show Less