By Maria Saporta
It could be worse.
The League of American Bicyclists has just released its ranking of “Bicycle Friendly States” — and the good news is that Georgia is in the top half with a ranking of 23 out of 50 states.
That is a significant improvement over 2011 when it was ranked 40th among the 50 states.
In the 2012 ranking, Georgia actually scored relatively well in the area of “legislation and enforcement,” but it was weakest in “evaluation and planning.” The other areas that were scored were policies and programs, infrastructure and funding as well as education and encouragement — areas where Georgia was in the middle of the pack.
The League of American Bicyclists said that Georgia had three bicycle friendly communities: Athens-Clarke County, Roswell and Tybee Island (all listed in the bronze category).
Georgia also has six bicycle friendly businesses — the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, the Atlanta Regional Commission, BikeAthens, Camden Bicycle Center, Fat Tire Bikes and Pirate Pedicab.
And the state has two bicycle friendly universities — both in Atlanta — Georgia Tech (silver) and Emory University (bronze).
The state which ranked the highest was Washington — scoring well in every category. The other top 10 states in order were: Minnesota (2), Massachusetts (3), Colorado (4), Oregon (5), Wisconsin (6), New Jersey (7), Maryland (8), Maine (9) and Delaware (10).
The state with the lowest ranking was Arkansas — which scored poorly in four of the five categories. That also was true of North Dakota (49) and West Virginia (48).
The other states at the bottom of the list were: Alabama (47), Montana (46), New Mexico (45), Kentucky (44), Nebraska (43), New York (42) and Hawaii (41).
The League of American Bicyclists also provided feedback to each of the states on how they could improve their rankings in the future.
This is what it recommends for Georgia:
• Adopt a statewide Complete Streets policy. The National Complete Streets Coalition has a model state policy and other resources to ensure adoption and implementation.
• Adopt federal funding project rating criteria that incentivize bicycle projects and accommodations. The majority of the state’s spending is focused on a handful of sources but neglects others.
• Update the statewide bicycle plan that addresses each of the five “Es”, has clear implementation actions, and performance metrics to gauge success.
• Establish a statewide bicycle advisory committee to provide accountability for bicycle projects and programs. The BAC should include diverse representation, formal inclusion in decision making, a work plan, and regularly held meetings (at least quarterly).
• Georgia is one of the least safe places for bicyclists in the country (based on the number of fatalities and bicyclists). Bicycle safety should be a major emphasis for all projects, programs, and policies to address this issue.
Please click here to link to the full report.