The Bay State has been named one of the best places in the country for cyclists, according to a new ranking by the League of American Bicyclists.
The annual ranking lists Massachusetts as the fourth most bike-friendly state in the country — a big improvement from its ranking of 10 last year.
Washington state tops this year's list, followed by Minnesota and Delaware. Utah rounds out the top five. The bottom five least bike-friendly states are Montana, Nebraska, Kansas, Kentucky and Alabama.
The rankings are based on a number of different criteria, including bicycling laws and protections, infrastructure, advocacy and how bicycling is incorporated in transportation planning. The information for the ranking system was gathered through a survey completed by state transportation departments and bicycling advocates.
“This is a tremendous recognition of our collective efforts and the many initiatives in place throughout the Commonwealth,” MassDOT Secretary Stephanie Pollack said in a statement.
The ranking comes amid Bay State Bike Week in Massachusetts. The initiative, which began Saturday and runs through Sunday, offers a series of statewide events to showcase cycling.
Biking has also been a big initiative in Boston. In March, the city announced it would install protected bike lanes along Commonwealth Avenue — often considered one of the most dangerous areas for cyclists. The city also has a 30-year bike network plan to make roads safer and more accessible for cyclists. And of course, there's Hubway, the successful bikeshare program that launched in 2011 and also operates in Cambridge, Somerville and Brookline.
In addition to its ranking, the national bicycle advocacy group issued report cards for each state. The report cards include an overall score out of 100 and scores for different categories. Massachusetts received 55 points out of 100. (No state received more than 67 points out of 100.)
Massachusetts also received high marks for its policies and programs as well as its education efforts.
The group also indicated which of its "Top 10 signs of success" can be found in each state. This includes:
- 1 percent of more of people commuting by bike
- Safe passing law (3 feet or greater)
- Complete streets policy
- Dedicated state funding
- Active state advocacy group
- State bicycle plan (adopted 2005 or later)
- Share the road campaign
- Vulnerable road user law
- Bicycle safety emphasis in strategic highway safety plan
- 2 percent or more federal funds spent on bike/pedestrian
Massachusetts had six of these 10 "signs of success."
The report also outlines several recommendations for each state to improve their bikability. For Massachusetts, the advocacy organization recommended the state:
- Spend more federal funding on bicyclists and pedestrians
- Adopt a safe passing law with a minimum distance of 3 feet to address bicyclist safety
- Require state buildings and other facilities to provide bicycle parking
- Increase the penalty for motorists that injure or kill cyclists or pedestrians
- Increase the amount of state highways that have paved shoulders or bike lanes
With the "bike-friendliest" states in blue, here is a map that shows how favorable states are to cycling (click to enlarge):