Oregon snags second place in 2022 ‘Bicycle Friendly State’ rankings

The League of American Bicyclists’ 2022 ranking of best bike states.

According to The League of American Bicyclists, which recently released its 2022 list of the most bike friendly states, Oregon is the second most bike friendly state in the United States, coming in right behind Massachusetts. We made second place the last time the League published their rankings in 2019, when we were beaten out by Washington.

Speaking of Washington, our neighbor to the north slipped from its first place placement for the first time since the League started publishing these rankings, this year coming right behind us at third place. (Psst: while we enjoy a little friendly Pacific Northwest rivalry, keep it between the Ducks and the Huskies. We want to see all states succeed when it comes to biking.) California and Minnesota came in at fourth and fifth respectively.

The rankings are determined based on five factors, which are outlined below. Here’s how our report card looked:

Oregon is one of 10 states to have adopted all five of the League’s ‘bike friendly actions,’ which include a Complete Streets policy, a safe passing law, a statewide bike plan, spending 2% or more of federal transportation money on biking and walking and having a bicycle safety emphasis area.

Oregon comes in at first place nationally for bike commuting mode share, as almost 2% of commuters bike to work here. This number is higher in cities like Portland, Eugene and Corvallis (the last of which beat Portland handily as Oregon’s top city for bike commuting in 2020), and we’d like it to be higher statewide, but considering how rural much of Oregon is, coming in first place here is nothing to scoff at.

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Despite doing so well overall, the League did provide some ideas of how we can improve in their individual state report for Oregon. These suggestions are things Portland bike advocates talk about often, like how we need to increase mode share in non-emitting modes of transportation like biking and walking, and that “reducing or increasing scrutiny of projects to increase motor vehicle capacity will be key to achieving reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.” With multiple anti-freeway campaigns taking place in Portland right now, there is certainly the people power to make this happen.

The League praises Oregon’s bold commitments to climate action, but also says leadership needs to act to reduce transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions in order to actually meet those goals.

In fact, the League calls out the Oregon Department of Transportation by name, saying they’ve had “high-profile opportunities for cultural changes at the agency” but haven’t acted on those opportunities as they should.

“As a national leader in bicycling and walking, how the Oregon DOT and other partners navigate these changes can have national impacts. The League hopes to see positive cultural changes that embrace equity, communities, and active transportation gain momentum moving forward,” the report says.

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Taking a 10,000 foot view, this report shows some national improvements, stating there has been a “marked increase” in bicycle friendly actions over the last 10 years.

“We found many states answering the call to design safer streets for all people. The League of American Bicyclists congratulates every state that is taking action to improve the safety and experience of people bicycling. Since 2015, we have seen the number of states taking all five of our recommended Bicycle Friendly Actions nearly double,” the League reports.

It’s good to see national trends indicating biking and bike safety is on the rise. There has been much ado about the ‘pandemic bike boom,’ and with this report, it looks like leadership is at least attempting to meet the demand.

Since I’ve lived in Oregon for so long, it’s hard for me to remember what biking anywhere else was like, and I think I take it for granted how nice it is to bike here. That being said, we can acknowledge we’re doing a comparably great job while still holding our leadership accountable.

You can read the whole report here and find out more about how the League suggests leaders act on making their states more bike-friendly.

New head of national bike-walk advocacy group will live in Portland

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Breen Goodwin.
(Photo: Alliance for Biking and Walking)

The organization that supports and coordinates the country’s state and local active transportation advocacy groups has a new boss, and she’s a Portlander.

The Alliance for Biking and Walking, which counts the Bicycle Transportation Alliance and Oregon Walks among its many affiliates, announced Monday that it’s named Breen Goodwin as its new executive director. Though the Alliance has been based in Washington, D.C., since its founding in the late 1990s, Goodwin will be based in Portland.

“This is a special place for my family,” Goodwin, who grew up in Tacoma and who still has family there, explained in a brief interview Wednesday from her current workplace.

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Former Portland Mayor Sam Adams named to League of American Bicyclists board

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Sam Adams
(Photo: World Resources Institute)

Sam Adams might have left Portland for a job in Washington DC back in January; but it looks like the biking bug he caught while serving as our city’s mayor between 2008 to 2012 traveled with him.

Adams, who — for better or for worse — was a champion for bicycling throughout his political tenure in Portland, is now the newest member of League of American Bicyclist’s board of directors. In an announcement by the League yesterday they described Adams as “a strong advocate for safe bicycling and pedestrian options” who “helped expand Portland bikeways system by 75 miles, and focused new investments.”

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Seven years after ‘Platinum,’ Portland’s collision and fatality rates remain well above its peers

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An infographic by the League of American Bicyclists showing the average performance of the communities they identify as bike-friendly.
(Zoomable PDF.)

Though Portland has been justly praised for regularly making it through many calendar years with zero deaths of people biking, it is clearly the most dangerous of the four cities recognized as the nation’s bike-friendliest.

For the years 2009-2013, Portland’s fatality rate per bike commuter was 75 percent higher than the officially listed average for the League of American Bicyclists’ four “Platinum” cities: Portland; Fort Collins, Colo.; Boulder, Colo.; and Davis, Calif. Its reported collision rate per bike commuter was 94 percent higher.

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Utah and Massachusetts jump past Oregon in bike-friendly state rankings

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Riding in Salt Lake City.
(Photo: Jake Cain)

For the second time since the League of American Bicyclists began ranking U.S. states’ bike-friendliness in 2008, Oregon didn’t make the top five.

As it has in every year, Washington led the 2015 ranking that the League announced on Monday. Washington was followed this year by Minnesota, Delaware, Massachusetts and Utah, then Oregon at sixth.

Though Oregon’s slip from third in 2013 (its all-time peak) to fifth last year to sixth this year certainly has echoes of the recent #DowngradePortland campaign launched by local bike advocates in an effort to persuade the League to rescind Portland’s “platinum” rating as a bike city, this statewide ranking is different. It’s also a ranking rather than a rating system, based on a 100-point scale that the League bases on a national questionnaire.

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Petition launched to strip Portland of ‘Platinum’ bike-friendly status

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Petition at Change.org.

It’s been nearly seven years since the League of American Bicyclists bestowed Portland with its highest honor; a Platinum-level bicycle-friendly community designation.

Now there’s an effort to strip Portland of that award.

Platinum is the highest ranking possible in the League’s widely-respected program that judges cities with a combination of technical analysis, local expert interviews, and an application process. Portland is the only large city to reach this status — the other cities are Fort Collins and Boulder in Colorado and Davis, California.

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DeFazio leads trio requesting GAO investigation into bike/walk safety

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Rep. DeFazio in September 2010.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

Oregon Congressman Peter DeFazio — who likes to mention in speeches that he’s the only member of Congress who has ever worked as a bicycle mechanic — is taking his fight for safer bicycling to the United States Government Accountability Office.

Citing a “troubling increase in pedestrian and cyclist fatalities in recent years,” Rep. DeFazio has joined with fellow House Democrats Rick Larsen from Washington state and Eleanor Holmes Norton from the District of Columbia to request a GAO investigation into the issue.

In a statement released today, the trio said they want the GAO to investigate, “trends and causes of accidents involving pedestrians and bicycles and to make recommendations about improving safety.”

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Ferguson, equity, and active transportation

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A slide from Seeing & Believing in Bike Equity

Like many of you, I’ve been following the events in Ferguson and around the country very closely these past two days. Flipping from headlines to my social media feed, my head has been spinning with thoughts on issues ranging from racism and white privilege to our justice system and media culture. As last night’s protests spilled into the streets and freeways across America last night, this story came even closer to my own sphere of activism.

The shooting of Michael Brown and the decision by a Grand Jury to not indict Officer Darren Wilson isn’t a BikePortland story. We cover bike news and culture. But we also cover social issues — like sexism, racism, gentrification, and so on — that often intersect with bicycling.

So this morning, when I followed a link (shared by Elly Blue on Twitter) that led to a publication of the League of American Bicyclist’s Equity Initiative, I knew it was something I wanted to share here on the Front Page.

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