Read through these FAQs to learn more about the program and how to apply.
Simple steps to make bicycling safe and comfortable pay huge dividends in civic, community and economic development. Given the opportunity to ride, residents enjoy dramatic health benefits, reduced congestion, increased property values and more money in their pockets to spend in the local economy. When your community welcomes bicycling, tourism booms, businesses attract the best and the brightest, and governments save big on parking costs while cutting their carbon emissions.
A community recognized by the League as Bicycle Friendly℠ is one that welcomes cyclists with trails, bike lanes, share the road campaigns, organized rides, Bike to Work Day events and so much more. A rich matrix of options that recognizes your area’s unique resources, the BFC application evaluates how your community encourages people to bike for transportation and recreation through the five Es: engineering, education, encouragement, enforcement, and evaluation.
The popularity of the program speaks for itself: As of 2012, more than 500 communities have applied, and 215 have been awarded Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum designation. But, even if your community doesn’t quite make the grade yet, applying is well worth the time. Each applicant receives customized feedback and technical assistance. Once your community becomes a BFC℠, the League will present an award and two highway-quality road signs at a local ceremony or celebration.
No. Thanks to the generous support of Trek Bicycle, we are able to waive all application and renewal fees.
Any municipality, county, Census Designated Place, military base, regional planning agency or Indian Country can apply to the BFC℠ program. Usually, a community official responsible for bicycling issues completes the application. However, much of the application can be completed by anyone familiar with what a community has done for bicycling as long as the community’s governing body approves its final submission. Often, the most complete applications come from communities where city officials, public agencies and local cyclists work on it together.
New and renewing applicants fill out the same application form. However, if you applied in Fall 2012 or later, you will be able to transfer the data from your last application into the new application.
There are two deadlines throughout the year - one in February and the other in July. The next deadline is February 19, 2014. Applications submitted through the online application site on or before the deadline will be considered for a May 2014 designation.
I started an application but won’t make the next deadline – how do I transfer my data to the next cycle?
If you have started an application and missed the deadline or are reapplying, you can transfer your data as soon as the new cycle opens.
To do so,
- access your application desktop and click on “Copy Form” next to the last application you have been working on.
- Select the new cycle you want to transfer your data to. Click “Submit”.
- You can now edit the new application.
Once an application cycle is completed, applications are send to several cycling experts, advocates and interested cyclists in the applying communities for local feedback. After the local review period, the applications, any submitted supplemental material and the local feedback are reviewed by a panel of national bicycle professionals. Applicants will be notified of the result about a week ahead of the public announcement to provide enough time to send out a press release and organize an award ceremony, if desired. All designated communities designated Bicyle Friendly℠ will receive an award certificate, a digital award seal and two Bicycle Friendly Community road signs.
Applicants that just fall short of a designation receive an Honorable Mention. Communities that receive an Honorable Mention are being promoted on the League website for one year. However, they do not receive a certificate, seal or road sign. The names of applicants that do not receive any recognition are not published. All applicants that do not achieve Bicycle Friendly℠ status still receive a detailed feedback report that can be used to work towards a designation next time the community applies.
The BFC℠ award is valid for four years. A BFC needs to reapply in spring or fall of the same year the award expires in order to maintain its status. For example, if your BFC status expires in 2014, you will need to reapply in February or July 2014.
If you are a designated a BFC℠ you mayorder additional BFC street signs, renewal stickers (if applicable) and BFC promotional material by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
An important part of the BFC℠ designation is the official presentation of the award to the community. A city council meeting or a bike-themed community event are good venues for an award ceremony. The ceremony could also include the celebratory installation of the Bicycle Friendly Community sign. The following steps are usually involved in setting up a local award ceremony:
- Choose a date and location.
- The League will identify a representative to present the award – the representative may be a League staff person or board member, the head of a local club, a member of the bike industry, or other appropriate person. If you have a preference, please let the League staff know. The League will provide talking points for the presentation.
- The League can assist you in developing a press release for your community announcing the award ceremony. Most communities use their communications department to distribute the press release.
- Have the BFC street sign and award certificate on hand for the awards ceremony - the sign works best as the item to present commemorating the award.
Bicycle Friendly America
Program Manager, Bicycle Friendly Community, State
Residents and Advocates
But, most communities will take a little more work. Here are the steps to encouraging your community to apply:
- You must identify the decision makers responsible for the policy changes you seek.
- Ask for a letter recommending the Bicycle Friendly Community program from any organization that might be inclined to support better bicycling. The local bicycle club is a natural first choice, but local environmental groups, civic organizations, businesses and others will tend to cooperate if you make it easy enough for them. Draft the letter for them so they know exactly what you need to minimize the amount of work you ask of them.
- Set up a meeting with the decision maker(s) you identified and bring your best spokesperson and copies of the letters of support with you. Talk about the benefits that bicycle improvements as well as the benefits of a Bicycle Friendly Community designation. A good starting point is to ask if the person will submit the application for Bicycle Friendly Community status. One way the city can show its support for building a Bicycle Friendly Community is by adopting the Action Plan for Bicycle Friendly Communities available here.
- Following the meeting, write a thank you memo that spells out your understanding of what was agreed to. Lack of persistence is the downfall of many a bicycle advocate. Motivated people motivate politicians and their employees.
The BFA program relies on local cyclists and advocates like you to fact check applications, provide a local perspective, identify hazards that need immediate addressing, and provide detailed recommendations on how the community could be improved for cyclists. To learn more and to sign up, please visit our local reviewer page.