Last week the League of American Bicyclists released the third annual Bicycle Friendly State rankings. Alaska made some improvements, jumping up eight spots to No. 39 in the rankings of all 50 states. The top state for the third year in a row was Washington, followed by Wisconsin, Maine, Minnesota and Oregon.
The eight-spot jump tied with Idaho for the fourth-best improvement this year (Florida and Kansas both improved 20 spots and Tennessee went up 19, followed by Alaska and Idaho at eight spots). In 2009, Alaska ranked a dismal 47th, and in 2008 we ranked 43rd. The rankings are explained in detail by clicking this link, but basically the League of American Bicyclists completed a 95-question survey with the bicycle coordinator of each state, with verification provided by statewide bicycle advocates.
While Alaska did better in the rankings, there still are many improvements the state needs to make when promoting cycling as a viable form of transportation. When you click on the state map on the Bicycle Friendly States site, you see Alaska received three F’s (Legislation, Education and Encouragement, and Enforcement), a D (Policies and Programs) and two C’s (Infrastructure, and Evaluation and Planning) in the six categories used for the rankings. In the rankings for each category, Alaska’s best showing was a tie for 12th in Infrastructure. Alaska tied for 19th in Evaluation and Planning, tied for 25th in Policies and Programs, was 44th in Education, 47th in Legislation and was part of a tie for 50th in Enforcement.
Alaska now has two Bicycle Friendly Community award winners (Sitka and Anchorage), and two Bicycle Friendly Businesses (the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium and Green Star Inc.), a big change from two years ago when we had no communities or businesses on the list. We’re making strides, but we still have a lot of room for improvement.