November 28, 2009

Alabama the beautiful…and hostile.

By Elisa | 17 Comments »

Oops, we did it again! Alabama has ranked #50 out of 50 in League of American Bicyclists Bicycle Friendly State Rankings. We were beat by Alaska, where it is icy and freaking cold.

This is discouraging, but also tells me that we are needed and we must be louder! I am working on a Birmingham Bike Summit for 2010 and this will certainly help move that along. Oh Alabama, why are you only top ranked for football and obesity?

Top 5:
1. Washington – Silver*
2. Wisconsin – Silver*
3. Maine
4. Oregon
5. Minnesota – Bronze*
I was surprised that Oregon was only #4…hello Portland?!

bottom 5:
46. New Mexico
47. Alaska
48. Oklahoma
49. Montana
50. Alabama
only 1 deep south state down here; a nice surprise.

Other major movers were Mississippi (+23), Georgia (+18), Florida (-12) and South Carolina (-11). I plan to dig deeper on Mississippi’s success.

Full results here.

were you surprised by where your state came in?

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  1. On November 28th, 2009 Dottie said:

    Alabama is lucky to have you! I know it must get exhausting always laying the groundwork, but it’s people like you who make real change.

  2. On November 29th, 2009 Steve A said:

    I wouldn’t read too much into it. What counts is how Birmingham is. BTW, it’s a lot more than money that counts. Alaska spends nearly 3X per capita on bikes than any other state.

  3. On November 29th, 2009 Denny said:

    Let me suggest you re-write your item. It simply says Alabama is ranked 50th. Uh, 50th for what?

  4. On November 29th, 2009 Elisam said:

    Denny-if you keep reading that very sentance it tells you that Al ranked 50th in the bike friendly state rankings.

  5. On November 29th, 2009 dukiebiddle said:

    There are so many crazy big movers on that list I think the methodology should be immediately suspect. Not only the ones you listed, but also Delaware (+22), Maryland (+19), Georgia (+18), Iowa (+15). WTF? Have these states made an about face and completely changed in 12 months, or are all states virtually identical in bike friendliness and a subtle change can make you jump 20 points in a year?

  6. On November 29th, 2009 Jay said:

    I can say from personal experience (Mississippi), that when we made the change, it was a pretty big about-face. We (always) have improvements to make, but thanks to some in groups such as Bike Walk Mississippi (, Mississippi is turning in the right direction.

    Elisa email me if you really want to dig into Mississippi’s success. I can put you in touch with people.

  7. On November 29th, 2009 Denny said:

    “Denny-if you keep reading that very sentance (sic) it tells you that Al ranked 50th in the bike friendly state rankings.”

    Uh, no, it actually doesn’t: “Alabama has ranked #50 out of 50 in League of American Bicyclists State Rankings.”

    The phrase “bike friendly” doesn’t appear on my computer screen. Yours?

    Oh well, it doesn’t matter, it’s your blog so please write what you choose.

  8. On November 29th, 2009 Elisa said:

    Jay-I would love to know more about it. Please email me your email address if you don’t mind. I can’t see it here

    Denny- fixed. This was clearly important to you.

  9. On November 29th, 2009 BB said:

    I think Georgia might have gotten a big bump because of all the scenic, tourist-y bike paths they’re building/planning. For example, Georgia is part of the East Coast Greenway that I was trying to hunt down this past summer. Also, it seems that Atlanta is going to create a significant number of miles of bike lanes/paths as part of its latest “beltway” project. I’ll be more enthusiastic about Georgia’s status when I ride on some completed bike paths/lanes.

  10. On November 29th, 2009 uncle said:

    Mississippi, and Jackson specifically (, just landed on my radar through the interblogs. They’re apparently shaking and moving.

    Alabama will too because of advocacy done by the coop and people like you.

    I expect you’ll at least be able to beat out Alaska next year.

  11. On November 30th, 2009 Frostybike said:

    “I expect you’ll at least be able to beat out Alaska next year.”

    Anchorage has a pretty extensive bike plan in the works. We also just received bronze from the league. Sitka was awarded bronze over a year ago. Juneau is aggressively adding more trails. Both Juneu and Sitka are smaller, denser cities which are crucial to bike-friendliness. Alaska passed a state-wide bicycle and pedestrian plan in 1994. There are 2 new bike advocacy groups, one state-focused, the other Anchorage-focused, to make sure bikes are considered in development. In Anchorage we also have miles and miles of greenbelt trails, a strong bike coop, tons of mountain bikers and snow bikers (rain, sleet or snow). So, don’t count us out.

  12. On November 30th, 2009 Elisa M said:

    frosty-no offense meant. I simply meant that if Alaska can put money in, where the climate is less than ideal, then why the heck can’t Alabama where it is nearly always good biking weather?

  13. On November 30th, 2009 Jansenh said:

    Hi. I live and commute in Seattle which pretty much puts me at the center of the bicycle universe? Pretty sure, I mean, ask the folks over in Fremont and they’re convinced they are the center of the universe, so…

    My opinion – Portland is a sweet bicycle town but outside the city I have been less impressed with the cycling infrastructure.

    The Seattle area/sprawl has a more trails and lanes by volume. Portland has us beat on the bicycle culture for sure.

    Regardless of ranking, I feel that all cyclists are better off than we were 20 years ago with regards to laws/lanes/trails/safety.

  14. On November 30th, 2009 Jansenh said:

    Also to note: Portland ranked higher than Seattle.

  15. On November 30th, 2009 CycleDog said:

    I wouldn’t get overly concerned about that ranking, either. The League won’t disclose what metrics are used in compiling it, so there’s speculation that it’s somewhat subjective.

  16. On December 1st, 2009 Lovely Bicycle! said:

    Maine?… I don’t understand how it is that Maine ranks so highly. The cars there drive 90mph on winding cliff-side roads with no shoulders. I would love to know how they decide on these rankings!

  17. On December 26th, 2009 2whls3spds said:

    I have always questioned those rankings and what they base them. If you think the state rankings are goofy you should see the city ranks.

    I ride in a fair part of the country and never cease to be amazed by the infrastructure in places like Minnesota or Iowa versus South Carolina or North Carolina. The “frozen North” has unbelievable infrastructure that gets used, the deep south? Fahgettaboudit we are left to fight for every inch of narrow roadway we can command, cut off by interstates, and having no funding in our DOT districts (still trying to get a coherent answer on that one!)

    All we can do is keep pushing and riding and being as visible as possible.


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