BFA 10TH Anniversary


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BFA 10th Anniversary

The Bicycle Friendly America program celebrated its 10 year anniversary this month. The program, which now operates in all fifty states, and has done great work right here in New Haven by helping Yale promote safe cycling, continues to grow. The original concept - to develop constructive criteria to help municipalities make biking safer and more accessible - originated in the 1990's in Overland Park, Kansas. Founder Wayne Bird came up with four simple questions he posed to communities interested in bike safety:

1) Does your community have a bike plan?

2) Does your community spend $1 per capita per year on bike facilities?

3) Have you proclaimed May as National Bike Month?

4) Does your community have a dedicated bake advisory committee?

Overland Park became the first BFC (Bicycle Friendly City) in 1995. Over the next seven years, 58 other cities became BFCs, too. As more and more cities sought to participate in the program, the League of American Bicyclists has expanded the program and added staffing and funding. Offshoots, such as the Bicycle Friendly Business program, the Bicycle Friendly State program, and the Bicycle Friendly University program, have now been established. Today, there are 242 BFCs in the United States, 477 Bike Friendly Businesses, and 44 Bike Friendly Universities (Yale is recognized as a Bronze level BFU).

Currently, the BFA program recognizes four different levels for community safe cycling: Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum. Unfortunately, in Connecticut, which ranks 20th, nationwide for bike friendliness, only has two cities - Simsbury and South Windsor - with Bronze rankings.

Before very recently, the highest designation awarded to any municipality was "Platinum" designation. Only three cities - Davis, California; Boulder, Colorado; and Portland, Oregon - have attained Platinum status. Davis invented the bike lane in the United States. Portland introduced new uses for paint, signage and light timing to make cycling safer. Boulder probably boasts the most vibrant bike culture in the nation.

In order to reach Diamond status, communities will need to reach 100 points, that can be drawn from 5 categories:

1) Percentage of trips to work and school by bike (must be at least 15%);
2) Bicyclist safety;
3) Public perception of safety;
4) Public satisfaction;
5) Quality of bicycling network, programs and policies.

The League of American Bicyclists will send staff to meet with communities in order to audit the current biking conditions, and to work with municipal officials and bike advocates to create a five year plan, customized to each particular community. Those communities willing to truly invest the resources to make bold improvements can continue to improve biking, and make their neighborhoods safer, cleaner and better places to live.
If anyone wishes to get involved in the BFA program, all the information needed to apply, along with a complete kit for bicycle advocates, may be found online at: BIKELEAUGE.ORG/BFA/TOOLKIT.