Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Is Your State Bicycle-Friendly?

Popular
Is Your State Bicycle-Friendly?
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.

Rise and Resist activist group marched together to demand climate and racial justice. Steve Sanchez / Pacific Press / LightRocket / Getty Images

By Alexandria Villaseñor

This story is part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.

My journey to becoming an activist began in late 2018. During a trip to California to visit family, the Camp Fire broke out. At the time, it was the most devastating and destructive wildfire in California history. Thousands of acres and structures burned, and many lives were lost. Since then, California's wildfires have accelerated: This past year, we saw the first-ever "gigafire," and by the end of 2020, more than four million acres had burned.

Read More Show Less
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced a pair of climate-related secretarial orders on Friday, April 16. U.S. Department of the Interior

By Jessica Corbett

As the Biden administration reviews the U.S. government's federal fossil fuels program and faces pressure to block any new dirty energy development, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland won praise from environmentalists on Friday for issuing a pair of climate-related secretarial orders.

Read More Show Less
Trending
David Attenborough narrates "The Year Earth Changed," premiering globally April 16 on Apple TV+. Apple

Next week marks the second Earth Day of the coronavirus pandemic. While a year of lockdowns and travel restrictions has limited our ability to explore the natural world and gather with others for its defense, it is still possible to experience the wonder and inspiration from the safety of your home.

Read More Show Less

By Michael Svoboda

For April's bookshelf we take a cue from Earth Day and step back to look at the bigger picture. It wasn't climate change that motivated people to attend the teach-ins and protests that marked that first observance in 1970; it was pollution, the destruction of wild lands and habitats, and the consequent deaths of species.

Read More Show Less
An Amazon.com Inc. worker walks past a row of vans outside a distribution facility on Feb. 2, 2021 in Hawthorne, California. PATRICK T. FALLON / AFP via Getty Images

Over the past year, Amazon has significantly expanded its warehouses in Southern California, employing residents in communities that have suffered from high unemployment rates, The Guardian reports. But a new report shows the negative environmental impacts of the boom, highlighting its impact on low-income communities of color across Southern California.

Read More Show Less