The League of American Bicyclists’ most recent ranking of Bicycle Friendly States has just come out and FABB is gratified to see that Virginia has jumped from No. 9 in the nation in 2019 to No. 7 in 2022 (plus we’re first among the 13 southern states).
When the program started 14 years ago in 2008, the Old Dominion ranked 23rd. So, Virginia has come a long way thanks to actions by elected and public officials, transportation planners, advocacy groups [modest bow], and bicyclists across the Commonwealth.
Among the news of Virginia’s improving standing, however, are signs of how much more needs to be done to make bicycling better. Numerous longstanding infrastructure shortcomings still need to be addressed.
- A grade of C- on Education and Encouragement, frankly, is shameful. These are generally low cost, high impact actions that are essential to expanding bicycling. They also gauge policymakers’ true commitment to making bicycling a key part of multi-modal transportation plans. Only .4% of Virginia commuters bike to work (placing us 26th in the nation), so we have a lot of room for improvement in encouraging people to bike.
- No one should be satisfied with a B on Infrastructure and Funding. This grade is clearly set against a very, very low bar. Virginia devotes less than 2 percent of federal funds to bicycle and pedestrian projects and ranks 28th out of the 50 states because it spends only $2.68 per person on these projects.
- Finally, everyone involved in transportation planning and law enforcement should not sleep easily while Virginia suffers 6.6 fatalities per 10,000 bike commuters. This is primarily an infrastructure problem that has left the Old Dominion without essential protected bike lanes and adequate connected bike lane, trail, and shared path networks. Every decision to increase unprotected bike lanes on the cheap is a decision to allow fatality rates to remain high and undermine people’s confidence in biking as a safe and reliable means of transport.
The Bicycle Friendly State rankings are based on publicly available data and a survey completed by state Departments of Transportation and/or state bicycle advocacy organizations. The 2022 Bicycle Friendly State report card identifies five Bicycle Friendly Actions every state should take and tracks each state’s progress. These grades help people identify areas for improvement in their state.
If interested in learning more about the data, check out the League’s Guide to the Bicycle Friendly State Report Card.
Interested in helping improve Virginia’s ranking? Contact us at [email protected].