This is something of a competing rating for the League of American Bicyclists Bicycle-Friendly Community assessment. As I understand it, a major industry funder of advocacy, Trek Bicycles, pulled funding from the LAB and instead allocated it to Places for Bikes. So there are industry politics in play here also. Finally, obviously it is a work in progress, a first iteration, and will certainly grow and be modified. There will be useful criticisms of it and refinements for it.
Still, the analysis is very interesting. And as it competes with, or is complementary to, the LAB's rating, it could shed light on important new factors in making for inviting and comfortable city bicycling.
Here's a brief note on method:
The Bike Network Analysis (BNA) score is an evolving project to measure how well bike networks connect people with the places they want to go. Because most people are interested in biking only when it's a low-stress option, our maps recognize only low-stress biking connections.So things to note about it:
We compute the score over four steps: data collection, traffic stress, destination access, and score aggregation
- Focus is on inviting future or infrequent bicyclists, not serving those who are confident and already bike regularly. Historically the LAB has had a bias for "vehicular cycling," a philosophy that bike should act like cars and be in the regular flow of traffic with cars. This approach skews towards confident men and has shown to be of very limited appeal.
- Land use, short trips, and meaningful adjacencies count. Can you run your errands and commute easily by bike?
Of the leading cities, Fort Collins is the only city I recognize as having been considered very bikey. Mostly these appear to be small towns with little traffic rather than cities with extensive bike boulevard networks. That is to say, they are quiet in absolute terms, not excellent for biking despite ordinary levels of traffic. The analysis might not be capturing quite the right characteristics just yet.
Cities like Davis, California and Corvallis are also not listed, so that's an important limit as well.
These should probably be regarded as draft findings and we should expect significant revision in the next iteration.
But it is true that Salem's network is still bike lanes on busy arterials, and our land use is diffuse and spreads destinations out, remote from each other. By these measures, Salem is poorly positioned for increases in cycling.
|That's our low-stress network on the left - empty!|
So this assessment will be something to watch as it develops and as Salem builds out its network.