Utah Breaks Into Top Ten of Bicycle Friendly States
The League of American Bicyclists‘ 2014 ranking of Bicycle Friendly States, released today, names Utah the eighth most friendly state for biking. This is Utah’s highest ranking to date. In last year’s assessment, Utah was No. 14, and in 2011, it was number 31.
“We’ve made tremendous gains, and our No. 8 ranking validates everyone’s hard work,” said Phil Sarnoff, executive director of Bike Utah, the advocacy group working to improve bicycling conditions in the state. “There’s no way to credit one organization or entity with our improvement in the rankings. It’s truly a collaborative effort.”
Evelyn Tuddenham, bicycle and pedestrian coordinator for Utah’s Department of Transportation, echoes Sarnoff. “There are two reasons Utah moved forward so dramatically in the rankings. First, many groups and individuals have worked together in a cooperative manner, much in line with Utah’s culture of collaboration. Second, there’s been a positive change in attitude within UDOT towards active transportation solutions.”
“The population in Utah, especially along the Wasatch Front, is expected to double within the next few decades,” explained Sarnoff. “Fortunately, state planners recognize that we can’t build our way out of this challenge by only considering cars. We need an integrated plan including both cars and active transportation like biking and walking.”
In 2013, Sarnoff and Bike Utah partnered with the Utah Department of Transportation to create the Statewide Active Transportation Coordinating Committee, which brings together all groups that have a vested interest in improving transportation alternatives, from state and local governments to advocacy groups, health organizations, businesses, colleges and universities, and more.
“The Committee is still growing and includes five unique subcommittees,” said Sarnoff. “We formed it to advance our active transportation efforts inclusively and to give all key players a voice. If we collaborate with each other, we can magnify our impact, learn from each other, and use resources in a thoughtful manner.”
The Bicycle Friendly States assessment, now in its seventh year, is a League of American Bicyclists program that comprehensively evaluates each of the 50 states in five categories: legislation and enforcement, policies and programs, infrastructure and funding, education and encouragement, and evaluation and planning.
Utah’s most significant improvements between 2013 and 2014 were in policies and programs, and education and encouragement. Click here to see Utah’s 2014 Bicycle Friendly State Report Card.
“We are excited and encouraged to see real progress in states like California, Minnesota and Utah,” summarized Andy Clarke, president of the League of American Bicyclists. “Overall, we still see a lot of opportunity to realize the huge potential of bicycling to promote health, economic development, and quality of life.”