Three of the US nation’s largest cities have joined the ranks of Bicycle Friendly Communities (BFC). Showcasing the progress and potential of major US cities to make bicycling safe and accessible for millions of Americans – Los Angeles (California), Nashville (Tennessee), and Miami (Florida) are among the 28 new cities to attain BFC status from the League of American Bicyclists.
“This latest round of BFC awards proves yet again that any city – regardless of size or geography – can take cost-effective steps to increase bicycling in their community,” said League President Andy Clarke.
“From Bentonville, Arkansas, to Bethesda, Maryland, cities are embracing biking as a means to save money, reduce congestion, improve health and boost their economy.”
The League awards Bicycle Friendly Communities at five levels (Diamond, Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze); and, with this diverse round of applicants, there are now 242 BFCs in 47 US states.
With the guidance and expertise of the BFC program, these communities are propelling the growth in bicycling nationwide across the US. According to recent census data, bicycle commuting grew 80% in the largest BFCs, but only 32% in non-BFC cities, from 2000 to 2011.
Thanks to significant progress over the past five years, the nation’s second largest city – Los Angeles – has now attained Bronze BFC status.
“Los Angeles is honored to be recognized by the League of American Bicyclists for our work making LA a more bike-friendly city,” said Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. “From building 1,600 miles of bikeways over the next 30 years to increasing the number of bike racks in the city by 80%, we’re making it simpler and safer for Angelenos to get around on two wheels.”
A strong bicycle culture in LA has grown up, thanks to countless individual cyclists and advocacy organizations such as the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, the Bicycle Kitchen, and Multicultural Communities for Mobility.
Validating the work of diverse stakeholders, LA’s Mayor Villaraigosa has supported and spurred the success of the 2010 Bicycle Master Plan, which has led to the expansion of the bicycling network and the addition of 75 miles of bikeways in 2011 alone.
In Nashville (Bronze award), Mayor Karl Dean has been a tireless advocate for active transportation with an emphasis on bicycling as part of his efforts to make the city healthier and more sustainable. In 2008, Mayor Dean formed the first Nashville Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee. Since taking office, he has invested US$7 million in bike ways, along with additional investments in greenways, complete streets and other infrastructure that supports bicycling.
“Improving bicycling in Nashville is important to me, and it’s my hope that we continue to become one of the most bike-able cities in the country,” Mayor Dean said. “We look forward to continuing our progress to make cycling easier and safer through initiatives like bike share programs, educational campaigns, bike-specific city maps and the expansions of bikeways throughout our community.”
Miami (Bronze award) is working to expand its bike path network, as well. A new bicycle master plan has led to on-street bike facilities, such as buffered bike lanes; and a new bike parking ordinance is putting hundreds of racks across the city. Strong advocacy organizations, like the Green Mobility Network, have helped grow an array of bike culture events and 90% of schools offer in-class bicycle education.
“The City of Miami is honored and pleased to be recognized nationally as a bicycle friendly community – but we have a long way to go before we are satisfied with the way bicycle riders are treated in our city,” said Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado. “We will continue to push for safer streets, and we realize that the closer government works with the bicycle community to improve safety and mobility, the better off everyone in Miami will be.”
Through the BFC program, the League of American Bicyclists works directly with communities to continue to improve condition for bicyclists. With the League’s feedback and technical assistance BFCs have a road map to move up the ranks.