Quantcast
Popular
iStock

Is Your State Bicycle-Friendly?

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.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Animals
White-tailed deer flee in a nighttime photograph. George Shiras

People Are So Annoying That Animals Are Becoming More Nocturnal

By Jason Bittel

It's official: Animals around the world are sick of our sh . . . enanigans.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
Emilie Chen / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

Against All Odds, Mountain Gorilla Numbers Are on the Rise

By Jason Bittel

The news coming out of East Africa's Virunga Mountains these days would have made the late (and legendary) conservationist Dian Fossey very happy. According to the most recent census, the mountain gorillas introduced to the world in Gorillas in the Mist, Fossey's book and the film about her work, have grown their ranks from 480 animals in 2010 to 604 as of June 2016. Add another couple hundred apes living in scattered habitats to the south, and their population as a whole totals more than 1,000. Believe it or not, this makes the mountain gorilla subspecies the only great apes known to be increasing in number.

Keep reading... Show less
Food
Garlic mustard flower. Gary J. Wood / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

10 Edible Weeds Likely Growing in Your Yard

By Brian Barth

You work so hard on your vegetable garden, primping and pruning to the point of exhaustion each spring. One of the biggest chores, of course, is weeding. But in doing so, you might be throwing away valuable produce.

Keep reading... Show less
Health
Pixabay

If Meditation Is Not Your Thing, Try a Walk in the Woods

By Karin Klein

There are times when I don't know what to do with myself. I feel at odds with the world, irritated by the people in it, in a funk about myself and what I'm achieving or, rather, not achieving, overwhelmed by the obstacles and complications of life. Happiness seems like an entirely elusive state of being.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Insights
Bill Hinton / Getty Images

Fake Grassroots Campaigns Deserve Uprooting

AstroTurf looks and feels like grass—in an all-too-perfect way. But it's not grass.

Now the well-known artificial turf's brand name has taken on a new meaning, referring to purported "grassroots" efforts that are actually funded and supported by industry and political entities.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
A photo posted by Hard to Port shows an Icelandic company having killed what some say is an endangered blue whale. Hard to Port / Facebook

Some Experts Say Icelandic Whaling Company Killed an Endangered Blue Whale

Anti-whaling group Hard to Port posted photos on their Facebook page Tuesday that activist group Sea Shepherd claims show an endangered blue whale recently killed by an Icelandic whaling company, the Australian ABC News reported Thursday.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Health

Kentucky Law Could Restrict Health Care for Miners Suffering From Black Lung Disease

A Kentucky law that goes into effect Saturday could make it more difficult for miners suffering from black lung to claim federal benefits, Vice News reports.

The law mandates that only five of Kentucky's 11 pulmonologists, or lung experts, may examine miners' X-rays in benefit claims.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Yannick Croissant / CC BY 2.0

Sorry AC/DC, Rock and Roll Is Noise Pollution

By John R. Platt

It's a rare scientific paper that cites both biologist E.O. Wilson and AC/DC guitarist Angus Young.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!