Recently the League of American Bicyclists named Oregon as the fourth most Bicycle Friendly State. For a long, long time, though, we've looked at the list of Bicycle Friendly Communities in Oregon, and wondered where was Salem? Ashland, Beaverton, Bend, Corvallis, Eugene, and Portland were all ranked, with Portland leading the nation, but the State's Capital was missing. It was an annoying omission. Bicycle Advocates wondered, why was the Capital City so far behind its municipal peers?
Well, maybe we're not so far behind! Just yesterday the League announced Salem merited a "Bronze" citation as a Bicycle Friendly Community! It's an important accomplishment and measure of progress. By national standards, maybe Salem isn't behind. The League cited Salem's achievements and progress in engineering and encouragement, leaving education, enforcement, and evaluation as needing work.
Of course there is much to do! By the standards set in communities like Bellingham, Olympia, and Seattle in Washington; Davis, Folsom, Palo Alto, San Francisco, San Louis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Santa Cruz in California; and communities like Corvallis, Eugene, and Portland here in Oregon, Salem still lags behind. There are significant structural elements in Salem's roadway system that make bicycling difficult and connections counterintuitive. Hopefully we can work on those in the next few years. Good bikey stuff is coming out of the Vision 2020 conversations. The League will follow up with some specific recommendations for us to work on so we can achieve Silver or even Gold in 2012, when we will reapply.
So when you join us tomorrow morning for breakfast, raise your coffee up and toast the bronze! (And join us as we work towards the next step of Silver or Gold!)