Bike Friendly, Revisited

There was a lot of discussion in the comments on Dottie’s last post about what makes a city bike-friendly. On the heels of that comes The League of American Bicyclist’s 2009 list of rankings of states for bike-friendliness. Unsurprisingly, their rankings line up with the more conventional assessment: Illinois (12) beat the pants off us Tennesseans (43, not an auspicious number).

One of the bike-friendly (i.e., traffic free!) streets I ride down every day

One of the bike-friendly (i.e., traffic free!) streets I ride down every day, back in April

The Chattanooga Greenway

The Chattanooga Greenway

Our #43 ranking is especially disappointing since Tennessee was ranked #36 just last year. I  have to assume this decline means that other states have just gotten bike friendly more quickly, since I have yet to read a story about the obliteration of bike lanes or greenways anywhere in our state, but it’s still disheartening.  The bright spot, according to them, seems to be Chattanooga, which received a bronze star for the Tennessee River Park and the Chattanooga Greenway. The city was already on my list to visit this summer or fall, since a good friend of mine just relocated there, and now I know to bring my bike along!

So where does your state fall—and do you agree with the ranking? Do you think rating cities is a more worthwhile exercise? (Memphis is bringing us down, man!)

Speaking of rankings, Dottie and I saw Let’s Go Ride a Bike show up in some pretty interesting ones over the last week or so. Today we discovered we’d squeaked into the top 50 cycling blogs, as ranked by London Cyclist—what a thrill to end up on a list that featured some of our favorite sites!

And last week, a commenter told us we’d been mentioned in Adventure Cycling magazine’s May “Letter from the Editor” as one of his favorite cycling blogs. Again, it’s very cool to be in the company of some of the blogs that inspired us to start this one. Where will we end up next?

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21 thoughts on “Bike Friendly, Revisited

  1. I am surprised to see Maine and New Hampshire as No.3 and No.8 on that list. I have lived in both places, and other than being largely rural, there is not much to recommend them for commuter cycling. Both states are known for exceptionally fast and reckless drivers, not to mentions steep hills with sharp, blind turns everywhere. Not to mention that winter can last from November through April/May, with the hilly roads under permanent cover of snow and ice and more snow the entire time. You can forget a relaxed 3-speed with rod brakes in that landscape!

    Plus, unless something has changed dramatically since our fairly recent visits to both places, there are very few bike paths and no room for cyclists on the roads. NH and ME are certainly nice for recreational cycling, done in national parks and specially designated places, but highly problematic for practical commuting. I would put Vermont (which they rated No.21) ahead of them, simply because it is quieter there, and the drivers are more conscientious.

    Massachusetts being No.19 sounds about right though.

  2. Congratulations on making this list! Its a great achievement and hopefully will send many more eager readers in your direction!

    Look forward to hearing more from you in future :)

  3. dottie says:

    Interesting, Wisconsin is #2. I’ll have to spend more time cycling up there. Last summer we took a weekend cycling vacation in Madison and both the city and the outlying countryside is beautiful and full of cycling paths. Milwaukee doesn’t have much cycling infrastructure, but falls under my inadvertently cycling friendly category with Nashville. North Carolina (where I grew up) at #20 sounds about right. These rankings seem to be based more on the recreational side. Maybe that’s the hard part with ranking by entire states – it starts to be more about National Parks and trails that don’t benefit city dwellers.

    • Trisha says:

      Yes, from the comments about Chattanooga’s bronze star I’m thinking they do give high marks for the parks and trails type things. Which makes sense, since the organization focuses on cycling travel, but isn’t quite as helpful for city riders like us.

  4. CJ says:

    So a. congratulations on being mentioned so many times and in so many places, and b. Did you see who is No. 50? Ha.

  5. 2whls3spds says:

    dottie,
    I am from NC, I too wonder about that #20 ranking. They obviously overlooked the city and county near where I live. :-0

    Aaron

  6. Tinker says:

    No 36?? I d o not see it. Texas is the worst! Legislation is most notable for it’s absence. Texas in fact is quite confused having laws on the books that both make it a child’s toy (requiring you to use the sidewalk) as well as a vehicle (requiring you to follow motor vehicle laws) but without any protection from motorists. The only positive is that streets and highways are in pretty good shape, since the weather is generally sunny, potholes are rare without a freeze/thaw cycle.

  7. Cezar says:

    If I may ask, where did you get the Adventure Cycling Magazine link?

    • Trisha says:

      A commenter mentioned it a few posts ago, and Dottie used her mad research skillz to track it down on Google and forwarded it to me.

  8. Ashley says:

    That’s awesome, Trish!!!

  9. Jennie says:

    Way to go Trish and Dottie on getting recognized! Whoo hoo!
    Trish – On Monday I saw a man on Acton Road commuting back home from work (I saw him earlier in the day around my office on 31). He was wearing office clothes and wasn’t all dressed in spandex like most of the bikers here. I tried to get a picture on my cell phone but it was all blurry! I wanted to pull him over and tell him about your site! haha!

  10. Jon says:

    Having lived there for 3 years, I can tell you that Memphis brings Tennessee down in so many ways, not just in the bicycling sense. Living there was what made me finally abandon the Confederacy (which is less of a joke in Memphis than you might think.)

  11. Looks like the mid-west kicks some ass! And the northwest, too. All I know is Wisconsin is number 1 in chedder heads per square mile. I’d watch out for drunk drivers on their roads, though. They do like their beer.

    You may be right about trail slant in the rankings.

    It’s an open question, to me, on whether the weather should factor into how bike friendly a state is. It’s not our fault the temps drop into siberian range for a big chunk of the year. It does make it more difficult to ride all year. Maybe the rankings are about what states are doing to make their state bike friendly. ???

    Those ‘Bama girls must be hardcore! They get much respect from me for hanging in there. Hey, on the plus side, when you’re at the bottom the only way is up.

  12. Scott says:

    I think Chicago would score very well if they ranked cycling cities. Mayor Daley said a few years ago that he wants us to be #1 in the USA (he first said #1 in the world, until it was suggested that this is impossible in view of Amsterdam, Bern, etc).

  13. Melissa Hope S says:

    Awesome! That’s great that the blog is doing so well. This is a good blog. I may be a little bias, but it’s still a good blog!

  14. anna says:

    Congratulations for being among the top 50. You really worked hard for that. Well, you already know that I love reading your blog.

    I guess #43 isn’t all that bad (although a drop back) taking into account that the USA is quite big ;-).

  15. sara says:

    Your blog’s ranking is exciting! My state’s ranking is extraordinarily disappointing (#44–UGH!).

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