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Can California become the nation's most bicycle friendly state?

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California is known for many things: Grapes, redwood trees, the golden gate bridge and increasingly, being bicycle friendly. California now ranks as the third most bicycle friendly state in the nation, the only state in the top five that improved its performance since 2012.

Being bicycle friendly brings many benefits to both the state and its residents. More people on bicycles means increased fitness and reduced health care spending, fewer automobile crashes, less demand for foreign oil, fewer cars wearing down the roads, increased tourism, etc.

So how can California continue its upward climb to the number one spot? A look at the factors used in the ranking provides the answer.

Factors used to rank bike-friendliness of states

The League of American Bicyclists is responsible for the year-to-year ranking of bicycle friendly states. Ranking is determined by success in the following categories:

  • Infrastructure and funding
  • Education and encouragement
  • Legislation and enforcement
  • Policies and programs
  • Evaluation and planning

How can California become the safest state for bicyclists?

Legislation and enforcement is the one category in which California was marked down. According to those in charge of ranking, California could modify its traffic laws to be more bicycle friendly. That includes laws that regulate drivers, protect bikers and utilize the existing environment, such as creating bike lanes.

Improving our traffic laws to be more bicycle friendly would not only better serve California's cyclists and reduce injuries and fatalities, but it would benefit the state economy as a whole.

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