Bicycle facilities must never introduce hazards, because they attract novice
The program must adopt the physician’s slogan “First, do no harm.”
The BFC program gives far too much emphasis on spending money — hiring consultants and planners to build facilities. We have heard that there is a “favored” consultant with ties to staff.
There is too little attention on teaching officials how to improve conditions for the people who actually use bicycles for transportation. Officials must understand the real issues and treat cyclists fairly, rather than just throwing money at “the bicycle problem”.
Most members of the BFC advisory group have had no training in bicycle driving, not even the fundamentals that are part of the entry-level Smart Cycling course. They do not understand and certainly do not appreciate the best practices of bicycle driving. The BFC program totally ignores all hazards created by the separate facilities they promote. This means that BFC tacitly encourages building dangerous bicycle facilities.
BFC as it is currently implemented is about as appropriate as if would be for Mothers Against Drunk Driving to sponsor a wine tasting party. BFC is contrary to the principles the League claims to stand for and highly detrimental to the cycling community.
Ironically cities that treat cyclists as fully equal users of the road may not receive a favorable score or they may be discouraged from even applying because the criteria so strongly favor “Paint & Path” over education and equitable treatment. The undeserving are rewarded while the deserving may be snubbed.
An example of a more deserving community that was snubbed is Vandalia,
Ohio. This city, working with the Dayton Cycling Club, reformed their laws
to repeal dangerous provisions, fixed road hazards, added secure bicycle parking
at city facilities and tested and adjusted vehicle detectors so they reliably
detect bicycles. They did not spent millions of taxpayer dollars on
consultants or dangerous separate facilities, so BFC rejected their application.
BFC has become so irrelevant to the interests of cyclists that the Ohio Bicycle Federation developed its own award program, called Cyclist Friendly Communities. Note the name suggests concern for cyclists, rather than bicycles, which are only machines. Cyclist Friendly Communities has a strong emphasis on education and on treating cyclists fairly.
CFC provides an extensive Web-based “Toolkit” of information to help communities to improve conditions and avoid mistakes. The toolkit includes the following articles for community officials (available via free download):
CFC also provides sources for educational materials the community can provide to its citizens. All articles in the list below, except the first, are available for free download from the Cyclist Friendly Communities Website.
The Ohio Bicycle Federation program sets out a clear roadmap leading to
certification. There is no playing games with communities by telling them
“try harder” (meaning spend more money) next year.
provides a sample application that shows how various measures would affect
the applicant’s score. The review committee will work with applicants to
help them gain the points needed to pass. The most important factor is the
CFC program will benefit cyclists, not just consultants and planners.
Commute Orlando (Florida) advocates a similar cyclist-friendly atmosphere, based on “critical thinking and holistic problem-solving”, The Components of a Cyclist-Friendly Community
For communities that already have the award (or with pending applications):
You can see guidance that LAB should be giving communities in
Guidelines for a ‘Cyclist Friendly Community’.
Links for BFC and BFC Reform Information
Note: Links will open in a new window.
www.labreform.org to join LAB Reform.
© Copyright 2003-2017 Fred Oswald and LAB Reform. May be copied with attribution.
Some materials may have been reproduced under fair use guidelines or with permission of the original author.
The author is a Professional Engineer in Ohio and a certified bicycling safety instructor.
Minor update Apr. 2017