Oregon is in a breakaway in the race for America’s most cycling friendly state.
That’s according to the national nonprofit League of American Bicyclists who released their Bicycle Friendly State rankings last week.
Oregon’s second place is its highest ever finish since the League began their rankings in 2008. We’ve been as low as eighth in 2011 and finished fifth the last time rankings were released in 2017. With an overall score of 71.8, we narrowly lost to Washington who finished with 71.9 and once again took the top spot which they’ve held every year.
States were given grades and numerical scores in five categories that included: completion of bicycle friendly actions; infrastructure and funding; education and encouragement, legislation and enforcement, policies and programs, evaluations and enforcement. Oregon was one of eight states that completed all five of the “bicycle friendly actions” (which include a safe passing law, a complete streets project, an emphasis on bicycle safety, a statewide bike plan, and a minimum level of federal funds spent on biking) and received Bs and As in all categories.
Despite those stellar grades and a 2.4% bicycle commuting rate that’s the highest in the nation, the League’s Oregon Report Card offers several ways to boost our ranking. They say we should repeal our “mandatory sidepath law” which requires bicycle riders to use a path or bike lane when one is available. (There are exceptions built into the law and it’s rarely enforced, but ORS 814.420 still exists.) They also urge Governor Kate Brown to “consider how bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure can alleviate traffic demands caused by denser development”.
You might know the League as the organization that gave Portland our once-coveted, now-controversial “Platinum” ranking. The state rankings are the League’s effort to focus on state transportation departments who they say are, “crucial actors for the safety of people biking and walking.” According to League analysis, 22% of all U.S. roadways are state-owned, yet they are where 45% of all fatal cycling crashes occur.
“Governors can provide leadership to state agencies, promote tourism or economic development around bicycling, or champion legislation that addresses safety funding and other needs,” the League’s report reads, “Making roadways safer for people on bikes isn’t a platitude, it requires action.”
These rankings are far from perfect, but the League does an admirable job of collecting data and comparing states on apples-to-apples metrics. Learn more and view all 50 state report cards here.
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and email@example.com
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