To coincide with Bike Month, the League of American Bicyclists is excited to announce the fourth annual Bicycle Friendly State (BFS) rankings. The League named Pennsylvania as number 25. This is a dramatic change from the 42, 40, and 38 rankings that Pennsylvania has received in past years.
So what changed in the past year to warrant such a huge jump in the rankings?
The answer is simple: PennDOT filled out the questionnaire.
After Josh Karns initiated a discussion of the BFS ranking at a PPAC meeting last summer, it emerged that PennDOT had never completed the questionnaire used by the League to develop the rankings. With incomplete information, the League staff were left to fill in the gaps, and some of Pennsylvania’s achievements were overlooked.
While little policy has changed in Pennsylvania in the past year, we are happy to now have an accurate, thorough benchmark upon which we can measure future improvements. Being ranked number 25 is only the start.
Pennsylvania still has much to do to become a national leader in bicycle friendly policies. The League developed category grade levels to provided another tool within the program to explain the strengths and weaknesses of bicycling in each state. The category grades for Pennsylvania are:
- C in Legislation
- D in Policies & Programs
- F in Infrastructure
- C in Education & Encouragement
- F in Evaluation & Planning
- F in Enforcement
That is not a report card to be proud of, and we are working with the League and state agencies to improve these grades. In particular, PennDOT’s Bicycle Occupancy Permit regulations are keeping good bike lane projects from being completed, and our Safe Routes to School obligation rates are among the worst in the country. These are important, tangible changes that can be implemented.
The annual BFS rankings and awards are published to encourage states to improve their bike-friendliness. The states are evaluated with a comprehensive annual questionnaire that is completed by state Department of Transportation bicycle coordinators. Additionally, the program also measures the combined performance of legislators, law enforcement, and state cycling advocates and promoters. Though there have been only slight shifts in the top ten and bottom ten of the BFS ranking since the program’s inception in 2008, the BFS program has helped inspire pro-bike legislation and policies throughout the country.