American streets might not look like Copenhagen, where well over a third of commuters ride bikes to work instead of driving. But biking is the fastest-growing way to commute in the U.S., and a lot of that has to do with the proliferation of new bike lanes and other infrastructure. A new report ranks each state to show which are the most bike-friendly places in the country.
Some states have long been leaders–Washington, for example, has had the top ranking for the last eight years, despite the rain and hills in cities like Seattle. But others are quickly moving up the list.
“Some of the biggest number jumps in terms of ranking happened in states that recently adopted legislation that enhanced funding for bicycling and walking,” says Elizabeth Murphy, communications director for the League of American Bicyclists, which releases the scorecard for all 50 states each year.
Massachusetts jumped up to fourth place from No. 10 last year, thanks in part to a new transportation plan that will pour $400 million into new biking and walking projects. Utah, which moved up from No. 8 to No. 5, will be home to the first protected bike intersection–a unique new design–in the country. Delaware, now ranked third, was No. 31 when the rankings started seven years ago, but has transformed itself with a new commitment to making biking safer.
With each score, the report lays out the details of how states can keep improving. Some, like bottom-ranked Alabama (with a pathetic score of 12 out of 100), have a much longer list of things to do than others.
“The ranking is a part of the way we lead the movement to create a more bicycle-friendly America for everyone,” says Murphy. “It serves, in one sense, as an advocacy tool, as states are given clear steps as to how they can improve. And, of course, the competition factor is a strong one. Minnesota is inching ever closer to the eight-year-running No. 1 state of Washington.”