By Charles Pekow
Like a rock and roll hit, Utah keeps moving up the charts. It even became a Top Ten hit. The League of American Bicyclists ranked Utah eighth out of the 50 states in terms of bicycle friendliness.
“The improvement in the last 5 years has been tremendous,” noted Evelyn Tuddenham, UDOT’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator. “Utah’s state and local agencies and advocates have worked together very effectively to bring about huge changes in record time. We’ll only improve as time goes on.”
The state moved up three spaces from #14 last year and #31 two years ago. It achieved its highest ranking yet.
While the state progressed significantly in the league’s eyes, it still has major hills to climb. Utah scored 53.72 points on a 100 point scale, still a significant increase from last year’s 43.1 points. The state got its highest marks in the categories of legislation & enforcement and education & encouragement (four on a five-point scale). It did less well in policies & programs and evaluation & planning (three points). The state did terribly when it came to infrastructure and funding, though, garnering only one point.
You can see the state rank at http://bikeleague.org/sites/default/files/BFS2014_Utah.pdf.
The League praised Utah for using Congestion Mitigation & Air Quality money to promote cycling and for having more than one percent of workers commute by bike. But it made a bunch of suggestions, such as needing to adopt a statewide Complete Streets plan and performance measures. The League also recommended that the state “(a)dopt a policy requiring state office buildings, state park and recreation facilities, and other state facilities to provide bicycle parking.”
The League also wanted Utah to conduct “a bicycle ride sponsored by the governor and/or state legislators” to show their support for cycling and suggested the state government dedicate state funding for standalone bike projects. The state also needs an impact study on how bicycling contributes to the state economy, says the report card.
Bike Utah issued a press release congratulating the state. “We’ve made tremendous gains, and our #8 ranking validates everyone’s hard work,” Bike Utah Executive Director Phil Sarnoff said in the prepared statement. “There’s no way to credit one organization or entity with our improvement in the rankings. It’s a truly collaborative effort.”
Idaho, meanwhile, ranked 20th, scoring 41.1 on the 100 point scale. Still, it improved from last year, when it scored 34.5 points.