The League of American Bicyclists has honored the efforts of the City of Bellingham to build better places for people to bike with a Gold-level Bicycle Friendly Community (BFC) award. Bellingham has been a Silver BFC since 2007 and is one of 485 communities across the country committed to making safer streets and better bicycling for everyone. The award recognizes Bellingham for its commitment to creating a bicycle transportation network that benefits residents of all ages and abilities while encouraging healthier and more sustainable transportation choices. Bellingham joins Seattle as the only two cities in Washington State to achieve Gold-level BFC and is one of only two cities in the nation promoted from Silver to Gold.
“During one of the toughest years in recent memory, we have seen so many Americans turn to biking during the pandemic for fun and for necessary transportation options. It’s so important that communities like Bellingham have laid the groundwork over several years to make biking a safe, accessible option for people when we all need as much health and happiness as possible,” said Bill Nesper, executive director of the League of American Bicyclists. “This Bicycle Friendly Community award is the culmination of years of work put in by Bellingham and its citizen advocates for better biking. This award round, Bellingham joins 51 new and renewing Bicycle Friendly Communities in the movement toward healthier, more sustainable and connected places. As we turn the page on 2020 and look ahead to 2021, we’re proud that Bellingham and communities like it are embracing bicycling as a solution to our collective recovery.”
The League of American Bicyclists’ Bicycle Friendly America program sets the standard for how communities build and benchmark progress toward making bicycling safer, more comfortable, and more convenient for everyone. The Gold BFC award recognizes Bellingham’s commitment to improving conditions for all people who bike through investments in bike education programs, regular bike events that promote and encourage people to choose biking, pro-bike policies, and bike infrastructure.
“Bellingham is creating a balanced multimodal transportation system that’s inclusive of all people walking, rolling, biking, riding transit, or driving vehicles. We developed a citywide bicycle network featuring a wide variety of bicycle facility types and our strategic approach to implementation focusing on connectivity, has been very successful. In just 6 years, we’ve completed over half of the 215 projects recommended in the Bicycle Master Plan,” said Chris Comeau, Bellingham Transportation Planner. “The most important ingredient in this recipe for success has been the dedicated local funding provided by the Transportation Fund – first approved in 2010 and renewed in 2020 by over 82% of local voters!”
While the award process considers very visible elements such as bike infrastructure, other essential elements include efforts around adult and youth bike education, encouragement through events like Bike to Work and School Day, evaluation mechanisms, and enforcement all through the lens of social equity. The rigorous application process is an educational tool in itself and includes an opportunity for local bicyclists and active transportation advocates to provide input on their experiences and perceptions of bicycling in their community.
The five levels of the BFC award – diamond, platinum, gold, silver and bronze, plus an honorable mention category – provide a clear incentive for communities to continuously improve. Awarded communities must renew their status every four years to ensure that they not only maintain existing efforts, but also keep up with changing technology, national safety standards, and community-driven best practices.
To learn more about the BFC program, visit www.bikeleague.org/community.
To learn more about Bellingham’s Bicycle Master Plan, visit www.cob.org/services/planning/transportation-planning/bike-master-planning.
To learn more about the Transportation Fund, visit www.cob.org/transportationfund.
About the League of American Bicyclists
The League of American Bicyclists leads the national movement to create a Bicycle Friendly America for everyone. With a history dating to 1880, the League is committed to engaging diverse communities and building a powerful, unified voice for change around protecting and promoting bicyclists’ rights. Learn more at www.bikeleague.org.