For the fourth consecutive time since 2008, the League of American Cyclists has named the Tucson and Eastern Pima County region a Gold Level Bicycle Friendly Community. The designation is part of the league’s Bicycle Friendly America program, which aims to make U.S. states, communities, businesses, and universities more friendly to bikes.
Tucson is among 35 communities to receive the gold status out of the 497 currently ranked, according to a League press release. Only five attained platinum: Davis, Calif.; Boulder, Colo.; Fort Collins, Colo.; Portland, Ore.; and Madison, Wis.
The rankings are based on a scoring system that examines factors such as roads with bike facilities, bike education in schools, bike-friendly laws, and how much of an organization’s transportation budget is spent on bicycling.
For each community, the league produces a “report card” showing how it did against the average community of next higher rank. For example, the new report card for Tucson and Eastern Pima County identified its percentage of commuters who bike at 1.69 percent, while that of the average platinum community is 13.6 percent.
But Tucson did well in other areas. It received a score of “excellent” (the best score possible) in the “Bike Month and Bike to Work Events” category, one of the report card’s 10 “Building Blocks of a Bicycle Friendly Community.” In the same category, the average platinum community merely ranked “very good.”
Tucson also received a score of “very good” in the category of bicycle-friendly laws and ordinances, matching the average platinum community. Tucson also matched its platinum counterparts in having an active bicycle advisory committee that meets at least monthly.
In its news release, the league highlighted the Pima County Health Department’s work with schools and community partners that are underrepresented and underfunded in the bicycling community, noting that the department’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Program worked to certify 29 new League Cycling Instructors, increasing the diversity of local instructors in the region.
Eric Post, who serves on the Tucson-Pima County Bicycle Advisory Committee and chairs the Platinum Bicycle Friendly City subcommittee, welcomed the news with optimism. “Every incorporated government in the Eastern Pima County region may enjoy the award and know that they are part of something great in the cycling world,” he said.
Post was also enthusiastic about the region’s future prospects. “The league has given us a wonderful report card with our strengths and with some exciting goals to work toward for the 2025 application,” he said. “In 2025, with the right efforts, Tucson and Eastern Pima County region hopes to obtain the next highest rating of Platinum.”