Massachusetts is the best state for biking in the United States this year, according to an annual ranking by the League of American Cyclists, which placed the Bay State first for the first time.
The Commonwealth earned the organization’s High Achievement Report Card with “A” grades in several categories.
The league bulletin, published last week, given Massachusetts an “A” in the “Infrastructure and Funding,” “Education and Encouragement,” “Policies and Programs,” and “Evaluation and Planning” categories.
However, the state earned a “D” grade for the “Traffic Laws and Practices” category.
“Investing in recreational and shared-use trails not only provides connections for people to exercise, relax or travel, but they also foster a sense of stewardship and shared stake in our parks, open spaces and trails,” Governor Charlie Baker said in a statement from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation in response to the league report.
Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito cited her and the governor’s work with city leaders, advocates and nonprofit groups to improve, expand and connect trail systems and roads to promote cycling as means of travel, according to MassDOT. This also includes shared use trails, bike paths and recreational trails.
Massachusetts Transportation Secretary and MassDOT CEO Jamey Tesler said the league’s recognition shows how far Massachusetts has come since 2015 with its cycling infrastructure as well as increased state funding for cycling projects. capital and public education about cycling, according to the release.
Since 2015, MassDOT has launched its Complete Streets Funding Program – created to encourage communities to incorporate principles into local planning and designs to ensure safe and accessible travel for all local road users, regardless of either their age or their abilities.
This program has awarded $77.4 million through 418 grants since its inception, which equates to many miles of new sidewalks, trails, paths and bike lanes as well as safety improvements at crosswalks and the road. reconfiguration of intersections, MassDOT said.
Among other initiatives, in 2019 the state DOT also committed $60 million to a five-year program to support the implementation of safe, comfortable, and convenient options for cyclists and pedestrians to travel for short distances. daily commutes, MassDOT said.
“In Massachusetts, 27% of all trips are less than 1/2 mile and 61% of all trips are less than 3 miles (approximately 16 minutes by bike),” MassDOT said. “Plans focus on proactively removing barriers that discourage walking and cycling and proactively creating high-comfort networks and facilities to make cycling a safe option.”
The favorable league bulletin also cited Massachusetts’ implementation of a statewide bicycling plan, with the state spending 2% or more of federal funds on bicycle and pedestrian needs. and a focus on bike safety, MassDOT added.
Oregon, Washington state, California and Minnesota round out the top five in the report standings, according to the League of American Bicyclists.
The league determined the five worst states for cycling in 2022 were Wyoming in last place, followed by Nebraska, Mississippi, Oklahoma and South Dakota.
This year marks the first time that Massachusetts, or any state other than Washington, has ranked first in the nation for its actions to build a “bicycle-friendly America for all,” the city said. League of American Bicyclists.
The report began in 2008 and aims to assess and rank states on their policies and practices to make cycling safer and the safety and ridership results as a result of those efforts, the league said.
The organization said while state leadership should encompass more than the five bike-friendly actions in its report, that the actions provide advocates and the public with an understanding of what actions their state leadership is taking or not taking. not to improve the bike locally.
These five actions are: a safe adoption law, a Complete Streets action, a focus on bike safety, a recent statewide bike plan, and a minimum level of federal funds spent on cycling and walking, the league said.
There has been a “marked increase” in the number of states taking the actions outlined by the league, reaching nearly half of all states, he said, adding that in 2015 only 13 states had four or five shares.
“Highlights of state leadership can be seen in Massachusetts and Washington, whose state DOTs have led the way in covid-related responses to demands for safer outdoor space,” the league wrote.
Even with improvements, the League of American Cyclists said the number of people killed while biking on the country’s roads has “increased dramatically over the past decade.”
He added that 38% of bicycle fatalities occur on state-owned roads, despite states owning 19% of the country’s roads.
While nationally, the U.S. Department of Transportation has acknowledged the trend in fatalities, the league said in developing its annual report and rankings that the data it has collected “shows that taking a safe system would enable States to improve security and save lives”. through slower speeds, safer roads and safer people.