March 2006

Grant Results


The Bicycle Friendly Community Campaign is an awards program of the League of American Bicyclists (incorporated as the League of American Wheelmen) that recognizes municipalities that actively support bicycling.

Key Results

  • Project staff developed the Bicycle Friendly Community Web site.
  • Since the campaign's inception in 2002, it has received 110 applications, and project staff has designated 52 communities Bicycle Friendly since May 2003. See the Web site for a list of the award winners.
  • The league hosted the International Symposium on Bicycle Friendly Communities on March 4, 2004, in Washington in conjunction with the European-based Velo Mondial, an organization that provides opportunities for cities to improve their planning to support bicycling.
  • The U.S. Conference of Mayors adopted a resolution promoting the development of bicycle-friendly communities at the 71st annual meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Denver, June 5–9, 2003.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) provided two unsolicited grants to support the campaign (ID# 043606) and to increase the number of bike-friendly communities in New Jersey (ID# 050074). The grants totaled $325,000 and ran from March 2002 through December 2004.

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Bicycling as recreation and transportation offers an untapped resource for increasing physical activity levels. For the 100 million Americans that live within five miles of their work, bike commuting is an opportunity to stay in shape instead of sitting in traffic, according to the project directors.

In recent years, however, the number of bicyclists has decreased significantly — from 56.3 million in 1995 to 41.3 million in 2000, a decline of more than 25 percent, according to the National Sporting Goods Association and the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. The decline has been particularly steep among children, who have also shown an increase in obesity.

A 1998 report of the American Medical Association indicates that of the 60 percent of Americans who lead a completely sedentary lifestyle, 40 percent are clinically overweight. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 200,000 deaths per year can be attributed to physical inactivity.

Three major factors have been identified as barriers to bike commuting:

  • Force of habit.
  • Accessibility to safe routes.
  • Workplace support.

The League of American Bicyclists previously directed a campaign to recognize communities that work to reduce these barriers and promote bicycle use among its citizens. Communities simply had to complete a four-item self-report application to be designated bicycle friendly.

League staff found that many of the 50–60 communities they originally designated bicycle friendly were, in fact, not good places for bicycling. The League of American Bicyclists recognized that in order for the campaign to be successful it needed to ensure that the communities designated as Bicycle Friendly truly support bicycling for fun, fitness and transportation.

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Promoting healthy communities and lifestyles is a goal of RWJF. Encouraging people to engage in routine physical activity is one aspect of the Foundation's effort in this area.

An RWJF report, Lessons Learned: Promoting Physical Activity at the Community Level, describes 25 projects funded by RWJF to promote walking, biking and other forms of physical activity and draws 12 general lessons from these efforts. The 25 projects had one thing in common: All aimed at getting people moving at the community level.

However, the approaches the projects took and the audiences targeted for intervention varied widely and included planning, communications, community health promotion and urban design consultation. The report is online.

RWJF has a number of national programs that promote active living:

  • Active Living by Design incorporates activity-promoting goals and processes into ongoing community planning efforts and supports the development and testing of local community active living projects, with special efforts to reach low-income Americans.
  • Active Living Research stimulates and supports research to identify environmental factors and policies that influence physical activity (for more information see Grant Results). Findings are expected to inform environmental and policy changes that will promote active living among Americans.
  • Active Living Leadership works to increase the number of state and local elected and appointed leaders who understand and champion community design to promote active living.

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The League of American Bicyclists designed its Bicycle Friendly Community Campaign as a national grassroots effort to increase the number of trips made by bike, reverse the trend of the sedentary lifestyles and improve community design across the country — town-by-town, city-by-city.

Municipalities apply to receive the designation of a Bicycle Friendly Community, which means that they provide safe accommodation for cycling and encourage their residents to bike for transportation and recreation.

The league is a Washington-based education and advocacy group that promotes bicycling for fun, fitness and transportation. The campaign also received support from the National Park Service ($5,000); a League of American Bicyclists membership fundraiser ($25,000); and Bikes Belong ($300,000), a national organization of bicycle suppliers and retailers.

Under the first RWJF grant (ID# 043606), project staff reviewed and analyzed the league's existing bicycle friendly community promotion campaign and corresponding materials, including the application and renewal process. They convened a 12-person national advisory group to provide guidance on the structure of a revised campaign. (See Appendix 1 for a list of advisory group members.) The advisory group met twice, first in person on March 5, 2002 in Washington and a second via conference call on July 18, 2002.

Project staff and the advisory committee redesigned the application for the Bicycle Friendly Community Award, created technical assistance resources for completing the application and developed a tiered award system.

Part I is a general community profile to assess if a community meets the basic criteria to begin part II of the application. The basic criteria include information on community:

  • Climate.
  • Population.
  • Square mileage.
  • Population density.
  • The current percentage of the transportation budget used for bicycle facilities.
  • The number of community activities that promote bicycling.
  • Contact information for the official bicycle/pedestrian coordinator.
  • The existence of a community bicycle advisory committee and the existence of a bicycle master plan or bicycle accommodation policy.

Part II of the application is a detailed audit of the community in five categories: engineering, education, encouragement, enforcement, and evaluation and planning. The audit is designed to yield a comprehensive picture of the community's effort to promote bicycling.

  • Engineering: A Bicycle Friendly Community has streets and highways where bicyclists feel comfortable and safe riding on the road or trail. Bicyclists are part of traffic, and the system — signs, signals and markings — works for them. Facilities are well maintained and secure, and parking is available.
  • Education: A Bicycle Friendly Community teaches motorists and bicyclists of all ages to be respectful, road-safe users. Beginning in elementary school, people are taught to ride and operate a bike safely, and drivers are taught and reminded to drive with respect for cyclists.
  • Encouragement: A Bicycle Friendly Community encourages people to ride their bikes to work, to visit friends, run errands or to have fun and enjoy the community. A wide variety of public relations campaigns and incentive programs create a culture where bicycling is welcome and valued. City government sets an example.
  • Enforcement: A Bicycle Friendly Community actively encourages traffic laws that relate to bicycle safety. Motorists and bicyclists are held accountable for their actions. Police officers and other public safety personnel regularly use bicycles.
  • Evaluation and planning: A Bicycle Friendly Community has a vision of what it wants to be for bicycling and a plan for getting there is implemented and regularly updated. The city routinely collects data about bicycle use, safety, trends and attitude about bicycling.

Awards are made in one of four categories: platinum, gold, silver and bronze. Typically,

  • Platinum communities are judged "exemplary" for bicyclists in all five criteria.
  • Gold-level communities are judged "impressive" in virtually all aspects of their application.
  • Silver-level communities are deemed "strong" in two or three parts of the application.
  • Bronze-level communities exhibit "strong commitment" to cycling and taking steps to become bicycle friendly.
  • An honorable mention level recognizes notable achievement by a community in one of the five categories.

Designated communities may submit applications to upgrade their status after two years. Unsuccessful applicants are encouraged to re-apply after one year.

League staff, an external reviewer and local cyclists review applications twice per year. Awards, announced in May and October of each year, are good for two years.

Staff re-launched the campaign in September 2002 in St. Paul, Minn., at the Pro Bike/Pro Walk biennial conference sponsored by the National Center for Bicycling and Walking, a Washington-based organization working to create bicycle friendly and walkable communities.

Staff also promoted the campaign to municipalities by attending the National League of Cities annual Conference of Cities in Salt Lake City in December 2002. Staff announced the first Bicycle Friendly Community Awards in May 2003 during Bike Month.

Staff planned to conduct an analysis of the campaign, but not enough time passed between the designation of the first Bicycle Friendly Community Awards in May 2003 and the end of the grant to measure change within a community based on their involvement in the campaign.

The second grant (ID# 050074) focused on the Bicycle Friendly Community Campaign in New Jersey to increase the number of New Jersey communities that receive the award. Project staff targeted New Jersey communities through meetings and training but soon realized that New Jersey communities were not yet at a level where earning an award was realistic. Subsequently, project staff worked both in New Jersey and nationally.

Staff sponsored two Bicycle Friendly Community Workshops in New Jersey to help communities identify actions needed to become bicycle friendly. The Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals developed these workshops as part of a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration program to advance bicycle safety. The workshops were designed to:

  • Teach participants how to assess bicycling conditions in the community.
  • Provide an introduction to bicycle safety issues.
  • Create an action plan to improve conditions for bicycling.
  • Encourage physical activity through bicycling in the community.

The first workshop took place on December 15, 2003, in Trenton, N.J., and the second took place on December 16, 2003, in Newark, N.J. Approximately 50 public officials, bicyclists and community planners participated.

On March 2, 2004, project staff hosted a National Advisory Group Meeting and Community Workshop Trainer Seminar in Washington. Twenty-two people attended, including four from New Jersey to learn how to lead Bicycle Friendly Community workshops.

Project staff promoted the campaign by making presentations or staffing the Bicycle Friendly Community display booth at 14 local, regional and national conferences, including:

  • The Maine Bicycle Friendly Community Conference.
  • Interbike Trade Show.
  • Bike Fest.
  • League of American Bicyclists National Bike Summit.
  • New Partners for Smart Growth.
  • National League of Cities Conference of Cities.

Staff wrote a booklet, Bicycle Friendly Communities 2003: Enhancing Cities Through Cycling, to highlight the successes in awarded communities and provide other communities real-world models to follow. (See the Bibliography for details.)

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  • Project staff has received 110 applications. Between May 2003 and November 2005, staff has designated 52 communities as Bicycle Friendly. The league recognizes newly designated Bicycle Friendly Communities with an awards ceremony, a Bicycle Friendly Community road sign and a formal press announcement. See Appendix 2 for a list of the 52 winning communities. The top communities are:
    • Platinum Level (1)
      • Davis, Calif.
    • Gold Level (4)
      • Boulder, Colo.
      • Corvallis, Ore.
      • Palo Alto, Calif.
      • Portland, Ore.
    Updates to the list of award winners are available online.
  • The league worked with the European-based Velo Mondial, an organization that provides opportunities for cities to improve their planning to support bicycling, to host the International Symposium on Bicycle Friendly Communities on March 4, 2004, in Washington. The symposium was an opportunity for mayors and other elected municipal officials to discover how communities in the United States, Europe and beyond are committed to adopting and implementing an action plan for Bicycle Friendly Communities. League staff extended personal invitations to 17 mayors and municipal officials from New Jersey. The symposium concluded with the signing of an action plan for Bicycle Friendly Communities. The mayor of Metuchen, N.J., signed the action plan.
  • The U.S. Conference of Mayors adopted a resolution promoting the development of bicycle-friendly communities at its 71st annual meeting in Denver, June 5–9, 2003.
  • Project staff developed the Bicycle Friendly Community Web site. The Web site:
    • Provides information about the campaign.
    • Offers campaign materials including the application.
    • Provides technical assistance resources.
    • Highlights awarded communities.
    • Technical assistance resources for completing Part II of the application; or applicants can call the league at (202) 822-1333.
    • Links to help communities fill out the application. The links are grouped and ordered to correspond with the questions on the Bicycle Friendly Community application.

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  1. Use tiered award categories — platinum, gold, silver and bronze — to provide motivation and inspiration for the designated communities to improve on their level of award in subsequent years of the campaign. These categories have worked well to motivate communities in the Bicycle Friendly Communities Campaign. (Project Director)

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The Bicycle Friendly Community Campaign continues with funding from Bikes Belong, a national coalition of bicycle suppliers and retailers. Staff continues to promote and conduct Bicycle Friendly Community workshops across the country as well as review and award Bicycle Friendly Community designations twice a year. The latest round of award winners was announced in October 2005.

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Making Communities Bicycle Friendly - in the U.S.A. and in N.J.


League of American Wheelmen, Inc., dba League of American Bicyclists (Washington,  DC)

  • Expanding a National Campaign to Promote Bicycle-Friendly Communities
    Amount: $ 250,000
    Dates: March 2002 to August 2003
    ID#:  043606

  • Increasing the Number of Bicycle-Friendly Communities in New Jersey
    Amount: $ 75,000
    Dates: December 2003 to December 2004
    ID#:  050074


Andy Clarke
(202) 822-1333
Anthony Yoder
(202) 822-1333

Web Site

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Appendix 1

(Current as of the time of the grant; provided by the grantee organization; not verified by RWJF.)

Advisory Group Members

Amy Bell
Bicycle/Pedestrian Coordinator
Vermont Agency of Transportation
Montpelier, Vt.

Tim Bustos
Bicycle/Pedestrian Coordinator
Davis, Calif.

Mike Greehan
Advocacy Director
Laguna Beach, Calif.

Martin Guttenplan
Florida Department of Transportation
Tallahassee, Fla.

Laura Hallam
Executive Director
Florida Bicycle Association
Waldo, Fla.

Tom Huber
Bicycle/Pedestrian Coordinator
Wisconsin Department of Transportation
Madison, Wis.

Richard Killingsworth, M.P.H.
Active Living by Design National Program Office
Chapel Hill, N.C.

M. Katherine Kraft, Ph.D.
Senior Program Officer
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Princeton, N.J.

Randy Neufeld
Executive Director
Chicagoland Bicycle Federation
Chicago, Ill.

Jim Sebastian
Bicycle/Pedestrian Coordinator
DC Office of Transportation Planning
Washington, D.C.

Alan Turnbull
Rivers, Trails & Conservation Assistance Program
National Park Service
Washington, D.C.

Charlie Zegeer
Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center
Chapel Hill, N.C.

Appendix 2

Bicycle Friendly Communities, May 2003-October 2005

  • Platinum Level (1)
    • Davis, Calif.
  • Gold Level (4)
    • Boulder, Colo.
    • Corvallis, Ore.
    • Palo Alto, Calif.
    • Portland, Ore.
  • Silver Level (12)
    • Chicago, Ill.
    • Eugene, Ore.
    • Folsom, Calif.
    • Fort Collins, Colo.
    • Gainesville, Fla.
    • Missoula, Mont.
    • Olympia, Wash.
    • Santa Barbara, Calif.
    • Scottsdale, Ariz.
    • Stanford University, Calif.
    • Tempe, Ariz.
    • Tucson, Ariz.
  • Bronze Level (35)
    • Ada County, Idaho
    • Albuquerque, N.M.
    • Ann Arbor, Mich.
    • Arlington, Va.
    • Ashland, Ore.
    • Auburn, Ala.
    • Beaverton, Ore.
    • Bend, Ore.
    • Bloomington, Ind.
    • Boca Raton, Fla.
    • Brentwood, Calif.
    • Brunswick, Maine
    • Burlington, Vt.
    • Carrboro, N.C.
    • Cary, N.C.
    • Chandler, Ariz.
    • Chattanooga, Tenn.
    • Chico, Calif.
    • College Station, Texas
    • Denver, Colo.
    • Gilbert, Ariz.
    • Lawrence, Kan.
    • Longmont, Colo.
    • Mesa, Ariz.
    • Miami Beach, Fla.
    • Mountain View, Calif.
    • Orlando, Fla.
    • Portage, Mich.
    • The Presidio of San Francisco
    • Redmond, Wash.
    • Rockville, Md.
    • Schaumburg, Ill.
    • Shawnee, Kan.
    • Vancouver, Wash.
    • Washington, D.C.

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(Current as of date of this report; as provided by grantee organization; not verified by RWJF; items not available from RWJF.)


Bicycle Friendly Communities 2003: Enhancing Cities Through Cycling. Washington: League of American Bicyclists, 2003.

World Wide Web Sites Web site created for the promotion of the Bicycle Friendly Community Campaign and distribution of the application and accompanying materials. Washington: League of American Bicyclists, September 1, 2002.

Presentations and Testimony

Dan Burden and Elissa D. Margolin, "Tools and Techniques to Build and Assess Community Walkability and Bikeability," at the 2nd Annual New Partners for Smart Growth, Smart Growth Network, February 1, 2003, New Orleans. Tape of conference session can be ordered online.

Elissa D. Margolin, Anthony Yoder and Charlie Zegeer, "Auditing Communities for Bicycling," at Pro Bike/Pro Walk 2002, National Center for Bicycling and Walking, September 5, 2002, Saint Paul, Minn.

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Report prepared by: Barbara Matacera Barr
Reviewed by: Richard Camer
Reviewed by: Molly McKaughan
Program Officer: M. Katherine Kraft

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