Wyoming Improves one place in National Biking and Walking Rankings
New reports from the League of American Bicyclists, Alliance for Biking and Walking and Safe Routes to School show Wyoming is making progress.
League of American Bicyclists – The Bicycle Friendly State℠ program – Wyoming up one place to Ranking #35
The annual Bicycle Friendly State Report Cards have been released by the League of American Bicyclists. Wyoming improved one place in 2015 over last year’s #36 ranking, but is two places behind the 2013 ranking of #33.
While that looks like more or less flat trend, its important to keep in mind that the rankings are relative to the other states, and all states combined showed improvements in the categories measured.
Wyoming’s top sign of success noted is the new Safe Passing Law, which the Wyoming Legislature passed in 2015. Wyoming Pathways was actively involved in helping support that safety enhancement for bicyclists.
One new award went to the University of Wyoming in Laramie, recognized as a Bronze level Bicycle Friendly University. This is the first time the University has been included in the rankings. Congratulations to UW and Laramie!
The Bicycle Friendly State Report provides feedback to states on steps they can take to improve bicycling and future report cards. For Wyoming, the recommendations included:
- Adopt a statewide bicycle plan that addresses each of the ve “Es”, has clear implementation actions, and performance measures to gauge success. The state’s last bicycle plan was adopted more than a decade ago.
- Adopt a statewide Complete Streets policy. The National Complete Streets Coalition has a model state policy and a variety of other resources to ensure adoption and implementation.
- Consider ways to provide support for local bicycle and pedestrian planning and projects and partnership opportunities with other state agencies, such as the Health Department, on collaborative programs to encourage biking and make it safer.
- Create a state website with resources on bicycle commuting, touring, state bike routes, planning documents, and other relevant information.
- The state could spend more federal funding on bicyclists and pedestrians. Adopt project prioritization criteria for federal funds that incentivize bicycle projects and accommodations.
- Dedicate state funding for bicycle projects and programs, especially those focused on safety and eliminating gaps and increasing access for bicycle networks.
“Its encouraging that Wyoming is actively working on some of the recommendations,” said Tim Young, Wyoming Pathways Executive Director. “For example, WYDOT is currently updating the Wyoming Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan, and the new Bicycle and Pedestrian System Task Force will direct a Governor-appointed team to review many of the topics, including education, safety, and partnerships with the Health Department and Travel and Tourism.
Alliance for Biking and Walking – Bicycling and Walking in the United States Benchmarking Report: In conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Healthy Community Design Initiative, the Alliance publishes the biennial Benchmarking Report to collect and analyze data on bicycling and walking in all 50 states. The Report combines original research with over 20 government data sources to compile data on bicycling and walking levels and demographics, safety, funding, policies, infrastructure, education, public health indicators, and economic impacts. It’s an essential go-to resource for public officials, advocates, decision makers, and researchers.
In the state data, the Benchmarking report shows Wyoming made the top 10 for people that bike and walk to work, with 4.7% Wyoming ranks ninth. While the number of trips to work are still fairly are low, keep in mind people in Wyoming make many other types of trips by biking and walking. These include trips to shop, to visit friends, go to school, for health and fitness, and more. More data on all trips made would be helpful, but is not currently available.
In the commuter data, Equality State showed the highest percentages of women biking and walking to work, essentially no difference in distribution to overall population of commuters that are women.
Wyoming also did well for an overall low number of bike/ped fatalities per 10k commuters, coming in 8th best of all the states. On the health side, Wyoming was 13th best in the % of people getting the recommended physical activity like biking and walking.
However, with only 54.2% meeting activity goals, Wyoming has plenty of room for improvement. States with higher levels of bicycling and walking to work see lower levels of diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure. Unfortunately, every state, including Wyoming, saw a rise in each disease, but the smallest increases were seen in states with higher levels of walking and biking.
Safe Routes to School National Partnership – State Report Cards on Support for Walking, Bicycling, and Active Kids and Communities: Safe Routes to School National Partnership developed state report cards which provide a snapshot of how supportive each state is of walking, bicycling, and physical activity for children and adults as of 2016.
The report cards primarily look at state policy focusing on four key areas: Complete Streets and Active Transportation, Safe Routes to School and Active Transportation Funding, Active Neighborhoods and Schools, and State Physical Activity Planning and Support.
Wyoming did not fare as well as we would like to see in this assessment, scoring only 72 points of 200 total for the four categories, and was in the “Warming Up” group.
- Complete Streets and Active Transportation, WY score 10/55 points.
- Safe Routes to School and Active Transportation Funding, WY=32/70
- Active Neighborhoods and Schools – WY=14/45
- State Physical Activity Planning and Support – WY=16/30
Only two states made the highest “Lacing Up” grade. That means that most states, including Wyoming, have considerable room for improvement in core areas for safe routes to schools.
The report provides many helpful tips and a healthy vision of the benefits of biking and walking, concluding:
“For decade upon decade, we’ve downplayed the importance of walking, bicycling, and physical activity, and built our streets and communities to cater to personal vehicles. There is enormous work necessary to make our states places where physical activity and health is built into our way of life.
Ensuring that people get just a few hours of physical activity a week yields an average reduction of 20 percent to 30 percent in mortality risk. Working toward changes in state-level policies and practices may seem technical and remote from people’s lives – but those very changes affect the most important things in life. They can keep families from splintering due to premature mortality, protect children from the diabetes and heart disease that is striking at younger and younger ages, and support vigorous state economies where people can work, build their dreams, and live in strong and healthy communities.”