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League of American Bicyclists

Oakland, Mill Valley Recognized as Bicycle Friendly Communities

Oakland as been focusing on building more bike facilities, and is rewarded with Gold-Level Bicycle Friendly Community status. Photo: Melanie Curry/ Streetsblog

The League of American Bicyclists recognized 61 towns and cities across the U.S. with its Bicycle Friendly Community awards. Among them, California cities Oakland and Mill Valley got high honors.

Oakland received gold-level recognition, the highest recognition awarded this year. Mill Valley, which applied for the first time, won one of the ten Silver-level awards.

There are now 464 Bicycle Friendly Communities recognized at the bronze or higher level in all fifty states plus the District of Columbia.

Other California communities awarded in 2018 include Brentwood (Contra Costa County), Chula Vista, Gilroy, Healdsburg, Pleasanton, Rancho Cucamonga, Santa Clara, and South San Francisco. All of these cities received Bronze-level recognition. All of them have received this designation in the past, except Gilroy, which received its first award.

The Bicycle Friendly Community recognitions were created in 1995 to encourage planners and policymakers in U.S. cities to think about what makes a bicycle friendly community and to incorporate some of the best planning and policy practices into their work.

Communities must apply for the awards. They seek them both for the recognition, and for the feedback they get from the League on how to improve conditions for bicyclists in their cities.

According to the League's website,

A Bicycle Friendly Community welcomes bicyclists by providing safe accommodations for bicycling and encouraging people to bike for transportation and recreation. Making bicycling safe and convenient are keys to improving public health, reducing traffic congestion, improving air quality and improving quality of life.

Other California communities that have already won bicycle friendly community status include Davis, at the top, platinum level, and previous gold-level winners Chico, Menlo Park, Palo Alto, San Francisco, San Luis Obispo, and Santa Cruz.

Fifteen California communities have earned Silver-level status, including Arcata, Calistoga, Coronado, Emeryville, Folsom, Irvine, Long Beach, Mountain View, Oceanside, Sacramento, Santa Barbara, Santa Monica, Solana Beach, South Lake Tahoe, and West Sacramento

Forty-two other California communities have earned Bronze level bicycle friendly community status.

The bike league rates communities on a list of factors that includes total bicycle network mileage per total road network, the presence of bicycle education in schools, the share of a city's transportation budget it spends on bicycling projects, the existence of bicycle advocacy groups, bicycle advisory committees, bike friendly laws, and a bike plan, as well as the ratio of how many people work on bike programs to the local population.

Oakland has been building bicycle facilities, and is currently working on its bike plan. In recent years, its planning department has focused on sustainable transportation. The city also gets a high rating for the presence of active bicycle advocacy groups--including Bike East Bay and Walk Oakland Bike Oakland—as well as for bicycle education in schools and active participation in bike month events.

However, Oakland's report card from the League also shows what it would take to reach platinum level—things like seeing a considerable increase in the number of commuters who bike, and a large decrease in the number of crashes and fatalities per bike commuter.

Mill Valley got high marks for its bicycle education program, for its active bicycle advocacy groups, and for the number of bike facilities on high-speed roads. But it needs to work on its total bicycle network mileage. It also spends a relatively tiny part of its transportation budget on bicycling, and its bicycle friendly laws “need work.”

Congratulations to Oakland and Mill Valley, and to all the bicycle friendly communities. The application for the 2019 awards is now open and available here. The deadline is February 5, 2019.

Find your community's standing and report card here.

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