As we await the imminent announcement from the League of American Bicyclists about its newest Bicycle Friendly Community award winners across the USA, I thought I’d republish (from years ago) my Baker’s Dozen* Audit for Bike Rideability. (I’m not sure if “rideability” is actually a word, but I love that the word “idea” is embedded right in it so I’m stickin’ with it.) These are the basics I road-test when I explore cities while Traveling at the Speed of Bike. I’ve been doing this for years all over Metro Atlanta and the USA.
If your community falls short this award cycle (or if you are planning to pursue the designation in the future), feel free to reach out to me if you are open to hearing and heeding rubber-hits-the-road lived and learned experience from a female, 57-year-old everyday transportation bike rider. (In all honesty, there is nothing new I will share with you or on the League’s rider surveys that I haven’t been sharing publicly on blogs and in books; in emails to city leaders; and while serving on commissions, committees, and in focus groups for the last twelve years. Please note I am entirely independent so I can tell my truth, separate from any existing groupthink.)
Also, continue to question “who” you are centering when you make decisions that you believe are “bike friendly.” You may not even realize who you are leaving out, when and where you are greenwashing, and why that ultimately matters. (Don’t miss The Width of a Prius and all its related links.)
So, here goes (and see here for rates to consult in your city, although my in-person road-testing is currently limited geographically due to COVID-19). In all honesty, if city leaders and staff in Metro Atlanta would simply ride with me, every often-easily-fixable problem is evident in less than an hour. Saying “no time, no resources” will not get us where we need to go as a city, region, and country. Embracing the proven, best-practices “ideas” in actual rideability will.
Baker’s Dozen Audit for Bike Rideability
While Traveling at the Speed of Bike to/from the following places, I consider bike infrastructure, bike rack availability/location (secure? convenient?), access (including through parking lots), safe routes between destinations, speed limits (and if they are observed and enforced), intersection usability, driver culture and habits, geography and other physical features, way finding signage, and more.
1. City hall/police headquarters
2. Schools (from preschools through college)
3. Community garden(s)/farmers market
4. Post office
6. Places of worship
8. Retail/restaurants/professional services
9. Arts/culture organizations
11. Residential neighborhoods
12. Historic locations
13. Any city-specific assets
* Not to be confused with this more-recent Baker’s Dozen self-guided bike tours in Metro Atlanta. I gave you those for free as Metro Atlanta Bicycle Mayor. Need classes? Those are free, too (in the formats I currently offer). There are lots more free resources here, and my book includes a ton of tips as well (plus all proceeds help more women and girls ride bikes).