Every year since 2008, the League of American Bicyclists (LAB) ranks each state based on their bike friendliness. This ranking ends up being a measure of the actions taken to make bicycling better. This program is their Bicycle Friendly State Program. They have similar programs for Communities, Businesses, and Universities.
Of special focus has been outcomes and activities by state legislatures and their departments of transportation, including ridership, safety, and spending. For 2018 (2017 data), the League used federal data on bicycling to highlight the evolution of biking-related inputs and outcomes in every state during the last decade. The Progress Reports provide graphs of the data, including comparisons to regional and national averages for each indicator.
South Carolina ranks 41st this year in their Bike Friendly State ranking. Previous rankings were 15th – 2008 , 26th – 2009, 34th – 2010, 39th – 2011, 32nd – 2012, 34th – 2013, 47th – 2014, 44th – 2015, no ranking – 2016, and 41st now for 2017.
We have improved, and SCDOT’s recent decision to allocate $5Million – 10% – of their federal safety funding will get the credit it deserves in next year’s ranking. Yet as this SC rank report indicates, we desperately need a statewide bike plan, among other things. Many argue that the LAB unfairly regards our safe passing law as as inadequate because it doesn’t provide a defined distance in 3′. Yet this still makes its way into our state ranking. As national experts explain, a 3′ passing law is of less consequence to enforcement in a court of law. Yet it is of greater consequence to education of the issue and public awareness.
Our take? We’re doing better; it’s a long game; we need to get our ridership back on the upswing; and we’re undeniably in the thick of it. Onward and upward!