The League of American Bicyclists released its annual Bicycle Friendly State rankings today and Utah earned the No. 5 position, up from No. 8 in 2014. In addition to moving up into the top five nationwide, Utah is now No. 2 in the western region behind perennial first-ranked Washington State.
The Bicycle Friendly States assessment, now in its eighteenth year, is a League of American Bicyclists program that comprehensively evaluates each of the 50 states in five categories: legislation and enforcement, policies and programs, infrastructure and funding, education and encouragement, and evaluation and planning.
Utah's most significant improvements between 2014 and 2015 were in policies and programs, infrastructure and funding, and education and encouragement. Click here to see Utah's 2015 Bicycle Friendly State Report Card.
"What's changed this year, thanks to efforts of Bike Utah and many others, is that the Utah Department of Transportation has really come on board as a partner in making the state more bike-friendly," said Andy Clarke, president of League of American Bicyclists. "With new leadership, an updated statewide bike plan with ambitious safety and use goals, and a commitment to including active transportation in all the agency's work, exciting things happen across the state."
Utah has scored well in previous years because of its vibrant bicycling community and the many towns and cities that have embraced bicycling in all its forms, from mountain to road to racing and triathlons.
"We are very proud of the high quality of life enjoyed by Utahns," said Utah Gov. Gary R. Herbert. "We have worked to support and provide world-class bicycling opportunities across our state, both for commuting to work and enjoying the natural beauty around us. As we meet the evolving demands of our state and plan for the future, amenities like this will help Utah continue to be one of the greatest places to live, work and play."
When Utah applied to be included in the LAB's Bicycle Friendly program in 2009, it was ranked eighteenth. After a slight down turn in the second and third year (No. 21 and No. 31), Utah began its climbing trend to thirteenth, fourteenth, eighth and now to fifth in 2015.
Making Utah more bicycle and pedestrian friendly is the result of coordinated efforts of many state organizations, advocacy groups, cities and communities and the people within them.
"The Utah Department of Transportation is very appreciative and proud that the efforts of all Utah's communities and partners are being recognized with this important distinction," said UDOT Executive Director, Carlos Braceras. "In Utah we know that biking plays an important role in Keeping Utah Moving, which is helping drive our great quality of life and economy."
"This is a huge step forward for bicycling in Utah and a testament to the hard work of many individuals and entities across the state," said Phil Sarnoff, Bike Utah's executive director. "It is great to be recognized nationally for all of the efforts underway in Utah. However, this pursuit is not just for the ranking. It's to realize the economic, personal health, air quality, and livability benefits that come from creating a state that is bicycle friendly."