• Northern Virginia cities did well in recently released ratings compiled by national advocacy group, PeopleForBikes.
  • Plan now to participate this Fall in the next survey to collect some of the data for this project.

PeopleForBikes this month released a comprehensive survey of bicycling in cities across the nation, and northern Virginia did well among other rated cities across the state. The Virginia ratings show that progress is being made but that much more needs to be done to make our area the equal of the best bicycling localities in America.

The PlacesForBikes City Rating Score is based on five factors: Ridership, Safety, Network, Reach and Acceleration. These are scored on a five-point scale and weighted equally (20% each) to provide the overall score. Together, these factors provide an overall assessment of the current state of bicycling in a community and how quickly improvements are being made. Each city’s score is determined using publicly available data and new research tools developed by PeopleForBikes.

Five of the seventeen localities in the commonwealth that achieved ratings are in northern Virginia (see chart). Our neighbors in Arlington had the highest score in the state, beating Richmond 3.0 to 2.7. For comparison, the two top rated cities in the country, San Luis Obispo, California, and Madison, Wisconsin, had scores of 3.5.

Even without a 5.0 scale, we know that our area has made progress and that there is significant room for improvement. But, these rating provide additional perspective and, when examining the individual factor scores, help highlight areas requiring more attention from advocates and government officials.

Briefly, the Ridership score reflects how many people in the community ride bikes for recreation and transportation. The Safety score considers fatalities and injuries of people on bikes as well as those walking and driving. Perceptions of safety are also given weight. The Network score evaluates the quality of the bike network — how completely it connects people to each other and local destinations using comfortable routes. As with safety, perceptions of the network are also given weight. The Reach score determines how well a community’s low-stress network serves all members of the community. Finally, the Acceleration score assesses how quickly a community is improving its biking infrastructure and how successful its encouragement programs are at getting people to ride. You can find more detail on the ratings for the five northern Virginia cities at the link above.

A key part of the data collection is the PeopleForBikes Community Survey. The survey asks questions such as how safe biking feels, whether it’s getting better, and about favorite places to ride in your hometown. The next community survey will be available in Fall 2020. FABB will alert area riders to its availability and encourages everyone to take the time to participate. This data will be useful for our future advocacy to make bicycling better in Fairfax County.

Please help when the survey comes out.

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