Every year the League of American Bicyclists (LAB) issues report cards for each state ranking them in terms of their “bicycle friendliness.” This year Arizona ranked #19 out of 50 states. This is really not that great. Unfortunately for our state we have much work still to do. The rankings are based on several factors and are best explained directly by the LAB as explained below. The image is the quick view ranking chart overall where Washington hit the #1 spot and Arizona hit the #19 spot:

2015_state_ranking_chartThe Arizona State specific report card is also below where we only received 42 out of 100 points:

LAB State RankingBelow is the LAB’s explanation of the criteria used to issue the report cards and provides a great perspective on the work we must still accomplish in our home state of Arizona:

What Do We Assess?

How do we determine the Bicycle Friendly State℠ Ranking? With our multi-faceted survey, we assess progress in five categories:

  • Education and Encouragement
  • Infrastructure and Funding
  • Legislation and Enforcement
  • Programs and Policies
  • Evaluation and Planning

Click through the slideshow to see how your state stacked up in 2014 in each of the five categories and read more about what each category means below.

Legislation & Enforcement

The Legislation and Enforcement component of the BFS questionnaire covers basic laws and regulations that govern bicycling. Questions include whether cyclists can legally use the shoulder, signal turns with either hand or leave the right-hand portion of the road when their safety requires it. This section also covers motorist responsibilities like passing at a minimum of three feet, making sure traffic is clear before opening automobile doors, and gathers data on the types of training law enforcement officers and traffic court judges receive to ensure protection of cyclists’ rights to the road and safe travel on our shared roadways.

Programs & Policies

The Programs & Policies component of the BFS questionnaire covers what state agency requirements are for accommodating cyclists, be it a Complete Streets policy, a plan or agreement for mountain bike trails, how much state agency staff time is dedicated to bicycling, and whether or not bicycling is included as part of the state’s carbon-reduction plan.


Infrastructure and how it’s funded is a critical element of the BFS questionnaire, and the questions aim at collecting data on specific performance measurements, i.e. in the amount of facilities and spending amounts for bicycling. Other examples include the percentage of state highways with shoulders, signed bike routes, trail miles, and bicycle-related project obligation rates for available federal funding. As states improve their numbers for many of the BFS questions, the bar will continue to rise for states in regards to bicycle-friendliness.

Education & Encouragement

The Education & Encouragement section covers the amount of bicycling education in the state for adult and youth cyclists, and individual and professional motorists. A few ways that states can educate drivers on the road about cycling, for example, are Share the Road campaigns and questions concerning cyclists’ rights in state drivers’ exams. States can encourage more and better bicycling by promoting bicycling tourism, producing bike maps and collaborating with state and local advocacy groups, along with education efforts.

Evaluation & Planning

The Evaluation & Planning section of the BFS questionnaire surveys how bicycling is incorporated into each state’s yearly planning. Questions address the way bicycling is included in the highway safety plan, outdoor recreation plan and/or bicycle transportation plan. This section also measures results of the state’s bicycle/car crash rates and bike commuting rates.

Source: LAB, http://bikeleague.org/content/categories-and-maps

Eric Post and Ben Dodge - D.C. 2015
Eric Post and Ben Dodge – D.C. 2015

bike_summit_social-mediaEvery year at the national League of American Bicyclists summit cyclists from all over the country gather in a united cause for advocacy. Those in attendance are the who’s who of bicycle advocacy on both a national and state level. In short, the LAB Summit is an exciting week long event of bicycle centered advocacy.

I had the opportunity to head to Capitol Hill and meet with many of Arizona’s legislators in the house and the senate. Many of the senators and representatives were busy tasked with upcoming bills; however they did allow for meetings throughout the day with their staffers or legislative correspondents.  It was incredible to be on “the hill” making our case for improved bicycle safety and bicycle funding. I loved every ounce of “the hill” and eagerly await another opportunity to return and advocate for cycling.

Senator John McCain's office - D.C. 2015
Senator John McCain’s office – D.C. 2015
Inside the Senate Building – D.C. 2015

My first meeting was with Senator McCain’s staff. They were gracious and polite. I appreciated their willingness to meet with a few of us from Arizona. We were well prepared with our talking points and our “asks” – for example, we asked for Senator McCain to co-sponsor an upcoming bill related to continued funding for transpiration and the reapportionment of a percentage of those to the states thereby allowing Arizona as a state to dictate which cities should have access to those funds for improved bike paths, etc.

Inside the Senate Building - D.C. 2015
Inside the Senate Building – D.C. 2015
Right to Left: Arizona Bicycle Lawyer Ben Dodge, CEO League of American Bicyclists Andy Clarke, Colorado Bicycle Lawyer Brian Weiss.
Bike Accident Lawyer Ben Dodge on “The Hill” fighting for cyclists’ rights.

The meeting went well, but I could tell that the “staffer” was mostly nodding his head out of kindness and did a lot of listening to our points, etc. but not really offering any support or insight. It seemed as though they are burdened with accepting meetings such as this all the time; and that in a way they couldn’t wait for it to just be finished so they could grab lunch before their next meeting with some other group wanting to express concerns on any given issue and ask for the Senator’s support as well. I couldn’t help but wonder how effective it really is to head to the hill and make your case. Yet on the other hand, every voice counts and there is one certainty: no voice at all is easiest to go unheard.

The other meetings with other senators went all about the same. They each sent a staffer and we made our case, left behind some materials, and asked for their support. I look forward to going again and again and again to show the persistence and importance of these issues. It is real and unequivocally helpful to reach out to your Senator or Congressman with your concerns when you have them, otherwise those concerns have zero hope for redress.

Arizona Bicycle Lawyer Ben Dodge in front of the White House – D.C. 2015

Of course, Washington D.C. is like no other city on earth. It has a majestic and noble feel to it in every building and monument you see. This city is rich with American history and culture. The monuments in particular are very inspiring. On one afternoon a few of us jammed around on bicycles and saw as many national monuments as possible. It was a blast! I rode the Bike Law cargo bike and I’ll tell you what, that thing is squirrely at first! The front wheel and steering mechanism is impressive and eventually your bike handling skills improve along with your confidence to jam through traffic like its no big deal. But taking that cargo bike up hill is a completely different story. It easily weighs in at least 3x my Focus bicycle, but I wouldn’t trade my Washington D.C. biking experiences for anything – what an awesome way to see these breathtaking national sites.

Bike Law Ben at Washington Monument – D.C. 2015 by bike
Bike Law Ben in front of Jefferson Memorial – D.C. 2015 by bike
Bike Law Ben in front of Iwo Jima Memorial – D.C. 2015 by bike
Bike Law Ben at Arlington National Cemetery – D.C. 2015 by bike