News Column

Bicycle Friendliest State: Washington, for 6th Year in a Row

May 1 2013 10:01PM
Seattle cityscape (file photo)
Seattle cityscape (file photo)

For the sixth year in a row, Washington has been named the nation's most bicycle-friendly state. Colorado and Oregon came in second and third on the yearly list that gives national bragging rights and is closely followed by the cycling community.

The rankings are bestowed by the League of American Bicyclists. Begun in 2008, they are based on funding for biking legislation, bike programs and policies, infrastructure, education and planning.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee attributes his state's standing to embracing biking as a "form of transportation that enhances our quality of life and honors our environment."

Biking is so mainstream in Washington that the state's secretary of transportation Lynn Peterson is an avid cyclist who plans to compete in the annual 200-mile Seattle-to-Portland ride in July.

This year, Colorado was second, continuing a steady climb from fourth last year and 12th in 2011.

Asked how a state known for mountains and snow managed the feat, Dan Grunig, executive director of the advocacy group Bicycle Colorado in Denver, said "there's no such thing as bad weather, just bad choice in clothing."

Besides, he added, most people in Colorado live on the Front Range, the area east of the foothills of the Rockies. So it's not so much mountains as high desert. Which "is actually a fantastic place to ride year-round," Grunig said.

Oregon got third place this year. "We made it into the medals finally," said Sheila Lyons, the state's pedestrian and bicycle program manager in Salem. Portland is known as one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the country, but the entire state is really a cycling paradise, and the state is seeing serious money come in from it now.

A study being released soon found that biking is a $400million industry in Oregon, "and I think we're at the very bottom rung of that potential," Lyons said.

Minnesota fell in this year's ranking from second to fourth place. "That's not because they did anything wrong, it's because Colorado and Oregon both stepped up and improved their performance," said Andy Clarke, president of the 133-year-old League.

Source: Copyright USA TODAY 2013

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