On the final day of Bike Month, The League of American Bicyclists announced 2023’s Bicycle Friendly Community awards. The League gives these to cities and towns based on their infrastructure, policies, culture, and other factors. The awards come in several levels: platinum, gold, silver, and bronze. Of the 45 towns awarded this year, eight received upgrades from their previous levels and one was brand new. The others renewed their existing level.
My own city, Columbus Georgia, was on this year’s list and renewed its Bronze level. Columbus has been Bronze since 2014, and many of us had hoped for an upgrade to Silver. We’ve built a huge amount of infrastructure in the past several years and strengthened our local bike culture, so it seemed fair to recognize that with an upgraded BFC status. The Bike League does not disclose their exact reasons for every award given, but they did raise their standards last year, which likely contributed to us receiving only a renewal rather than an upgrade.
But higher standards also means that Bronze is worth more now. The state of Georgia is home to twelve Bicycle Friendly Communities, and they are all Bronze except for one Silver, Decatur. Many of our fellow Bronze recipients have great bicycle infrastructure and culture, so we are in good company. Hopefully, by the time we’re up for recertification in 2027, we’ll make the cut for Silver.
Southeastern states overall remain highly dependent on the federal interstate expansion and car culture boom that began in the mid 20th century, which has kept most local, human-scale transportation options from flourishing. Georgia’s overall Bicycle Friendly state rank is 24, which puts us just above the national average. All things considered, that’s something to celebrate.