LAB ranks Arizona 9th Friendliest

The League of American Bicyclists has announced its 2010 Bicycle Friendly State Rankings (BFS). Arizona was ranked 9th overall bike friendliest state — slipping two places since last year. Arizona was awarded a bronze BFS designation in 2009.

It seems that the LAB BFS Rankings are a bit emblematic of the “Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde” nature of Arizona cycling. Here are a few examples:

  • Out of 50 states, we are rated highly (6th) in legislation, due primarily to our “3 foot safe passing distance” law and the general equivalency of bicyclists’ rights and responsibilities on the road…however, as a state don’t really educate drivers regarding bicyclists rights to the road (beyond sections of the drivers manual), we have not rigorously or consistently enforced the laws we do have and we still rank fairly high in bicyclist deaths as a percentage of driving/riding/roadway miles.
  • We dropped to 20th in policies and programs in the 2010 ranking. The LAB said last year that we were 49th out of 50 states in utilizing federal Highway Safety Improvement Program funds. ADOT has seemingly abdicated their responsibility in this area: the state has effectively turned its back on a program that has a 90% federal to 10% local funding ratio. Given Arizona’s budget situation, this is just incredible. I inquired of the current governor (via e-mail) how this could be, and got no response. I hear from ADOT’s Bike/Pedestrian advocate that this situation will improve, but at last check nobody was driving this program within ADOT.
  • The good news: A Context Sensitive Solution revamping of Hwy 179 from Village of Oak Creek to Sedona is nearing completion, and it is a shining example of what could be done in some of the most scenic and bike-able areas of our state. The process was put in place by ADOT, to their credit, and our Advisory Board member, Randy Victory, led the bicyclist accommodation “charge”. Legislators, city officials, tourism officials, and citizens in general need to wake up and smell the Gatorade. We’ve got natural beauty, climate, fiscal opportunities and a national health crisis that are all point to the same thing: Make AZ a better, safer place to bike and it will move the needle in a positive direction on many fronts.
  • More good news: The Coalition of Arizona Bicyclists has made great strides this year in locating matching funds for a full time director, in uniting advocates around the state and in making alliances with sponsors such as Trek Bicycles to develop an increased membership base and a more cohesive advocacy voice in Arizona.

What seems so obvious to those of us who ride a bike seems philosophically out-of-reach to many officials in our state and many of the non-bicycling public. But there are shining examples of what is possible, and changing the past scenario is CAzB’s mission. We appreciate the support of our members and contributors as we continue to pursue a safer and more bicycle-friendly Arizona.

Bob Beane, President
Coalition of Arizona Bicyclists

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