This week, the League of American Bicyclists released its annual Bicycle Friendly State Rankings. For 2012, Wisconsin finds itself 6th, down from 3rd last year and 2nd in 2010.
On their blog, the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin expressed their “disappointment” at Wisconsin’s “backwards slide”. After contacting LAB to learn why Wisconsin dropped in this year’s rankings, BFW was told this reflected reduced state spending on bicycling. The BFW blog states that “in our last biennial budget, Wisconsin cut the state funds it allocates to bicycling.”
Although maintaining a high ranking in the LAB rankings is a badge of honor, more than pride is at stake when it comes to being an elite state for bicycling. Wisconsin’s reputation as a bicycling mecca earns us a great deal of tourism dollars for our economy. Furthermore, bicycle businesses thrive here due to Wisconsin’s historically excellent economic environment for bicycling.
BFW states that bicycling contributes “more than $1.5 billion into our state economy each year and provides more than 13,000 jobs in the cities, towns and villages across the state.”
In my opinion, it is reasonable to be concerned that a tarnished reputation as a bicycle-friendly place could make it difficult to attract new bicycle-based businesses and might encourage those located here to seek out places more supportive of bicycling to do business. Wisconsin certainly doesn’t want to lose either the jobs or the tourism income stream that have been created in part from our steady investments in bicycling across the state over many years.
You can read the LAB 2012 Bicycle Friendly State Rankings here and their press release on these rankings here. The BFW reaction to Wisconsin’s ranking can be found here.
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