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Is Your City Listed in Latest Ranking of Bicycle Friendly Communities?

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Is Your City Listed in Latest Ranking of Bicycle Friendly Communities?

The growing number of people pedaling along the sidewalks and streets aren't just biking in urban areas.

The League of American Bicyclists released its latest ranking of Bicycle Friendly Communities (BFC) today, including 32 communities that are new to the list, many of which are suburbs. There are now 291 BFCs in 48 states.

The League of American Bicyclists' list of Bicycle Friendly Communities features 291 U.S. cities, including 32 additions in 2013—many of which are suburbs. Photo credit: The League of American Bicyclists

The League considers the addition of that many suburbs a win in the battle to reduce emissions.

"One of the great challenges in envisioning a truly bicycle-friendly America is the need to transform suburban communities," League President Andy Clarke said. "Well, that transformation is evidently underway and is being lead by communities like Menlo Park, CA; Elmhurst, IL; Reston, VA; and Richfield, MN."

The BFC program has been around for a decade. Each year, communities apply to become a BFC and can receive advice on the investments needed to increase biking in their areas. They can receive platinum, gold or bronze awards based on their level of commitment to increasing biking.

Places like Elmhurst and Ferguson, MO, serve as examples to cities that aren't on the list. The League estimates that 10 to 20 percent of students in Elmhurst bike to school. That figure prompted the installation of hundreds of additional bike racks at local schools. About 300 miles away, Ferguson introduced an Earn-a-Bike program to encourage children to use safety when biking around town.

Map credit: The League of American Bicyclists

"Ferguson's residents and businesses, with the help of regional organizations, have been working to update our practices and policies to be more bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly," said Dwayne T. James, Ferguson city council member.  "Receiving this bronze award shows that we're on the right path to doing what is right and what is best for our residents and the region as a whole. I'm thankful for this honor as well as look forward to continuing our efforts to be an even better Bicycle Friendly Community." 

There are just four platinum communities on the list—Boulder, CO; Davis, CA; Fort Collins, CO; and Portland, OR. Though Colorado has two of the top four platinum communities, the state is ranked second  on the League's Bicycle Friendly America map. Washington is ranked No. 1, with 10 BFCs and 20 bicycle friendly businesses.

California has 44 bicycle friendly businesses, including Facebook, which is listed as a gold-level company. The social network partnered with Menlo Park, the silver-level BFC where it is headquartered, on a program to build a 394-resident housing complex within walking distance to its headquarters. Menlo Park's amount of commuters grew by 8 percent since last year's ranking.

"We've worked hard over the past few years to raise our BFC status through policy, infrastructure and education efforts to encourage more active transportation in Menlo Park and improve our community health, environment, and quality of life," Menlo Park Mayor Peter Ohtaki said. "We look forward to continuing to enhance bike connections and amenities across the City to encourage a healthy, vibrant community." 

A plume of smoke from wildfires burning in the Angeles National Forest is seen from downtown Los Angeles on Aug. 29, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

California is bracing for rare January wildfires this week amid damaging Santa Ana winds coupled with unusually hot and dry winter weather.

High winds, gusting up to 80- to 90 miles per hour in some parts of the state, are expected to last through Wednesday evening. Nearly the entire state has been in a drought for months, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which, alongside summerlike temperatures, has left vegetation dry and flammable.

Utilities Southern California Edison and PG&E, which serves the central and northern portions of the state, warned it may preemptively shut off power to hundreds of thousands of customers to reduce the risk of electrical fires sparked by trees and branches falling on live power lines. The rare January fire conditions come on the heels of the worst wildfire season ever recorded in California, as climate change exacerbates the factors causing fires to be more frequent and severe.

California is also experiencing the most severe surge of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with hospitals and ICUs over capacity and a stay-at-home order in place. Wildfire smoke can increase the risk of adverse health effects due to COVID, and evacuations forcing people to crowd into shelters could further spread the virus.

As reported by AccuWeather:

In the atmosphere, air flows from high to low pressure. The setup into Wednesday is like having two giant atmospheric fans working as a team with one pulling and the other pushing the air in the same direction.
Normally, mountains to the north and east of Los Angeles would protect the downtown which sits in a basin. However, with the assistance of the offshore storm, there will be areas of gusty winds even in the L.A. Basin. The winds may get strong enough in parts of the basin to break tree limbs and lead to sporadic power outages and sparks that could ignite fires.
"Typically, Santa Ana winds stay out of downtown Los Angeles and the L.A. Basin, but this time, conditions may set up just right to bring 30- to 40-mph wind gusts even in those typically calm condition areas," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike Doll.

For a deeper dive:

AP, LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post, Weather Channel, AccuWeather, New York Times, Slideshow: New York Times; Climate Signals Background: Wildfires, 2020 Western wildfire season

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, sign up for daily Hot News, and visit their news site, Nexus Media News.

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