The League of American Bicyclists has ranked Oregon the fifth most bike friendly state in the nation. This ranking marks a slip of two places from our third place ranking last year. Since these rankings debuted in 2008, Oregon has only been out of the top five one time with an eighth-place in 2011 (which the Oregon Department of Transportation took exception to).
While no ranking system is perfect (and most of them are nothing but click-bait garbage) the League of American Bicyclists does have some credibility and they have a rigorous set of criteria that they use to weight a state’s success in integrating bicycling into transportation plans, policies, and projects.
In these latest ranking, our neighbors to the north in Washington have once again nabbed the #1 spot. Rounding out the top five, and placing ahead of Oregon are Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Delaware. Check out the full rankings below:
For each state, the League has created a “report card” complete with grades on each of five judging categories, the “top 10 signs of success” and a list of feedback.
With a grading system of 1-5 (5 being best), Oregon failed to get any 5s. We received a 2 on infrastructure and funding. When it comes to specific feedback about how we can improve our ranking, here’s what the League had to say:
• Repeal the state’s mandatory bike lane law.
• Adopt performance measures, such as mode shift or a low percentage of exempted projects, to better track and support Complete Streets/ Bike Accommodation Policy compliance.
• Update your state bicycle master plan. The plan update should evaluate and build on the previous bicycle master plan, and reflect changes in bicycle user needs.
• Adopt performance measures to decrease bicycle fatalities.
• Adopt a mode share goal for biking to encourage the integration of bicycle transportation needs into all transportation and land use policy and project decisions.
• Adopt the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) Design Guide.
• Adopt a Vision Zero policy to help Oregon reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities.
• Increase the dedication of funding to bicycle and pedestrian projects from 1% of state transportation trust funds to 2%.
• Adopt a policy requiring state office buildings, state park and recreation facilities, and other state facilities to provide bicycle parking.
• Since arterial and collector roads are the backbone of every transportation network, it is essential to provide adequate bicycle facilities along these roads. Increase the percentage of state highway network that has paved shoulders or bike lanes.
Those are some worthwhile goals and targets for Oregon to work on.
There’s widespread public support to repeal our mandatory sidepath law (a law, ORS 814.420, that states a bicycle rider must use the bike lane if one is present) and we’ve seen recently how that law is open to controversial interpretation. However, we haven’t seen interest from lawmakers or the Bicycle Transportation Alliance to take this legislative change on.
When it comes to statewide planning, the good news is that ODOT has already kicked off an effort to update its Bicycle and Pedestrian Mode Plan. As for adopting the NACTO guide, we reported last month that Oregon’s use of its own bicycle facility design guide might be why we haven’t made that move.
If there’s one glaring thing this ranking system misses is that, in Oregon’s case, our state DOT is doing many forward-thinking things internally that don’t necessarily show up on the League’s radar. Even so, it’s always good to be reminded that we need to push further ahead, faster.
Learn more about the League’s rankings here.